June 7, 2016

Former Astronaut Charged with Murder After Wreck Killed Two Girls in Alabama (Source: AP)
A former astronaut who flew five missions and helped lead NASA back into space after the space shuttle Columbia disaster is charged with murder after an early morning wreck that killed two girls in Alabama, state troopers said. James Halsell Jr., 59, of Huntsville was arrested after a crash killed 11-year-old Niomi Deona James and 13-year-old Jayla Latrick Parler early Monday.

Troopers said a Chrysler 300 driven by Halsell collided with a Ford Fiesta in which the girls were passengers. Both victims were ejected from the vehicle and died. Two adults who were in the car suffered injuries and were hospitalized. A preliminary investigation indicated alcohol and speed may have been factors in the crash. (6/7)

UAE Space Center Deal with University Aims to Develop Emirati Scientists (Source: The National)
Job opportunities in scientific, technical and space projects will be created for outstanding Emirati students after a space center signed a deal with a leading university. The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center entered an agreement with UAE University to develop qualified UAE nationals to work in the space, science and technology sectors. The center and the university will design and develop educational and training programs so graduates can help meet the growing needs of the space industry in the UAE. (6/6)

Missing NASA Scientist From Wallops Found Dead (Source: ABC)
Authorities say a NASA research scientist who worked at the Wallops Flight Facility has been found dead a day after her family reported her missing. Police said the body of 48-year-old Tiffany Moisan of Princess Anne was found Sunday in a wooded area behind a Food Lion store. Moisan's family reported her missing Saturday to Maryland State Police.

Princess Anne Police Chief Tim Bozman says Moisan's vehicle was found in the store's parking lot. Her body was sent to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore. Police say there were no apparent signs of foul play, but the investigation will stay open until autopsy results are in. Moisan was a scientist studying oceans and phytoplankton. (6/7)

SpaceX Landings Prove Sound Process, Expert Says (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
It’s the fourth time SpaceX has been able to recover a rocket after launch, and the third time it was recovered after landing on a barge. Such regularity is a big step in the company’s quest to lower launch costs and to establish rocket reusability as a norm in the industry, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Justin Karl said.

“You can’t expect a pricing structure to rely on something that can be done only once in a while,” Karl said. “They rely on things that can be done the same way, every time.” One hurdle that could face SpaceX is insurance. A company official recently said that SpaceX would meet with insurance underwriters to properly explain the process behind reusability. (6/7)

Boeing Seeks to Block Sea Launch Partners From Selling California Assets (Source: Law360)
Boeing asked a California federal judge Monday to prevent a Russian aerospace giant and its affiliates from selling off its California-based Sea Launch spacecraft launch assets, saying the former business partner was trying to “abscond” with assets to shirk a $325 million payment owed to Boeing over the failed venture.

Michael E. Baumann of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, representing Boeing, said a preliminary injunction was needed to block SP Korolev Rocket and Space Corp. Energia — or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates — from selling its remaining assets based in Long Beach. (6/6)

Seeing the End of Obama’s Space Doctrine, a Bipartisan Congress Moves In (Source: Ars Technica)
Although it has been less than thrilled by NASA’s effective taboo on lunar exploration, Congress has adopted a good-cop approach toward the agency's asteroid-then-Mars human spaceflight plans during the last six years. In hearings, members have suggested that the space agency reconsider its human mission to an asteroid and perhaps work with Europe on some tentative plans to send humans to the surface of the Moon.

But NASA hasn’t acquiesced to this gentle cajoling. During the recent appropriations process in the House, members exercised the power of the purse to more forcefully nudge NASA back toward the Moon as an interim step to Mars. Lawmakers zeroed out funding for the asteroid mission and encouraged NASA to “develop plans to return to the Moon to test capabilities that will be needed for Mars, including habitation modules, lunar prospecting, and landing and ascent vehicles.” (6/7)

Microbes in Space: JPL Researcher Explores Tiny Life (Source: Space Daily)
On May 11, a sealed capsule containing fungi and bacteria fell from the sky and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. Microbiologist Kasthuri Venkateswaran could hardly wait to see what was inside it. At NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, Venkateswaran, who goes by Venkat, studies microbial life - the wild world of organisms too small for us to see with our eyes. (6/7)

Soyuz Mission to ISS Delayed to July (Source: Space News)
Roscosmos confirmed Monday that the next Soyuz mission to the station will be delayed. The state space corporation said that Soyuz MS-01 launch, previously scheduled for June 24, has been pushed back to July 7 to allow for additional tests of the spacecraft's software. Earlier Russian media reports said there were concerns the spacecraft would start rolling uncontrollably during docking because of a software flaw. The delayed launch won't affect the return of a Soyuz from the station next week, or two commercial cargo missions slated for launch in July. (6/7)

Smith, Babin Question NOAA’s Delay of Satellite Imagery Provider’s License (Source: Space News)
Two key House members are asking NOAA why a commercial remote sensing license has been delayed for years. Reps. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Brian Babin (R-TX), chairman of the full House Science Committee and its space subcommittee, sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Monday asking about delays in a license for infrared imagery from DigitalGlobe's Worldview-3 satellite. The company said last month that it has been waiting more than three years on a license to sell high-resolution infrared imagery from the satellite. (6/7)

Antrix-Devas Deal: US Based Birm's Role Under ED Scanner (Source: The Hindu)
A satellite communications company is facing new allegations from the Indian government. India's Enforcement Directorate notified Devas Multimedia that more than $85 million in foreign investment it took may not have complied with conditions set by the Indian government, including that the agreements between the company and foreign investors be subject to Indian law. Devas has been in a long-running dispute with Antrix, the commercial arm of ISRO, over transponder leases, and won a $672 million award from an international arbitrator last year. (6/7)

Carter, Musk to Discuss Innovation in Upcoming Meeting (Source: Space News)
Ash Carter, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, and Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder and chief executive, will discuss innovation June 8 in a private meeting, the Pentagon’s top spokesman said. “Elon Musk is one of the most innovative minds in this country and the secretary, as you know, has been reaching out to a number of members of the technology community to get their ideas, their feedback, find out what’s going on in the world of innovation,” said Peter Cook.

Musk has had a somewhat strained relationship with the Defense Department in recent years. He believed the Air Force moved too slowly in 2014 in certifying SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket to launch national security satellites. SpaceX sued the Air Force that year over its $11 billion block buy contract with United Launch Alliance, arguing that the Defense Department should have put some of those launches up for competition.

Editor's Note: Case in point: The Air Force funded its traditional contractors to study innovative methods for reusable rocket boosters. All of them settled on using wings to fly the boosters back to the spaceport for runway landing. The idea of landing them vertically seems to have not been seriously considered. (6/7)

On-Demand Shooting Stars, Coming Right Up (Source: Bloomberg)
To catch a falling star, luck might not be a factor any more. Lena Okajima, an entrepreneur in Japan, wants to get into the business of delivering tiny artificial meteors sent up in rockets, released from a satellite on command and bright enough to illuminate the night over light-flooded cities.

Okajima's wish-upon-a-star moment happened 15 years ago in a cow pasture outside Tokyo, when the former researcher went to see the Leonids, meteor showers seen every November as the earth orbits through a trail of debris left by a comet. (6/7)

Air Force Chief: US Must Be Ready to Fight in Space (Source: Business Insider)
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said the U.S. Air Force needs to be ready to engage in space combat. "Other nations are preparing to use space as a battlefield, a big battlefield, and we’d better be ready to fight there,” Welsh said. “We don’t want to fight there but we better be ready for it because other people clearly are posturing themselves to be able to do that.” (6/7)

Why Are We Funding Putin's Sanctioned Cronies? (Source: Forbes)
This week the Senate will debate whether the U.S. should continue to pour money into the pockets of Putin cronies sanctioned by the U.S. Yes you read that right: As things stand, Congress allocates hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars – a billion over the last decade – to fund institutions now run by sanctioned individuals. In Russia, that means they use the finances how they want. (6/7)

As Space Agencies Unite on Climate Science for First Time, Congress Shoots for Cuts (Source: Fusion)
When astronauts gaze back on Earth from space, they often report feeling overwhelmed by the fragility of the tiny planet “hanging in the void.” This is known as the “overview effect” and it imbues those select few who make it out of our atmosphere with a unique cognitive awareness of the profoundness of life and need to actively protect it.

Now for the first time, 60 of the world’s space agencies, including NASA, have agreed to work together to protect life on Earth from one of the gravest threats humankind has ever faced. Climate change, a slow-moving catastrophe, is notoriously hard to experience firsthand at the local level, but from space the impacts are much easier to spot and monitor.

In fact, according to the news release from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), which oversaw the final agreement on Friday in New Delhi, “without satellites, the reality of global warming would not have been recognized.” Meanwhile, not all is sunny on the climate science horizon. In the United States, Congress is targeting climate change research through proposed cuts to NASA and NOAA for next year. (6/7)

Second Starliner Begins Assembly in Florida Factory (Source: NASA)
Another major hardware component for Boeing's second Starliner spacecraft recently arrived at the company’s assembly facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The upper dome – basically one half of the Starliner pressure vessel – arrived at the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility, closely following the arrival of the lower dome and docking hatch in early May.

The three components will be outfitted separately with wiring and lines, avionics and other systems before the pieces are connected to form a complete Starliner the company is calling Spacecraft 1. From there, it will be outfitted with electrical and fluid systems before engineers will attach the outer thermal protection shielding and the base heat shield that will protect the crew during re-entry. (6/6)

Suborbital Research Makes a Comeback (Source: Space Review)
Several years ago, interest was high among researchers in flying payloads on commercial suborbital vehicles, only to see development of those vehicles continually delayed. Jeff Foust reports that now, as some of these vehicles begin test flights, the research community is taking a second look. Click here. (6/6)
Float Like a Hypersonic Butterfly (Source: Space Review)
Many media reports compared the recent test of an Indian technology demonstrator for a future reusable launch vehicle with the US space shuttle. Dwayne Day discusses how a better comparison is with two Air Force programs of the 1960s. Click here. (6/6)
Echoes From the Past: the Mars Dilemma (Source: Space Review)
Last week, Elon Musk reiterated his plans to mount human missions to Mars as soon as 2024, using an architecture he will unveil later this year. John Hollaway wonders if these plans will be threatened by a shift in demand for launches that will hurt the large vehicles Musk needs to carry out his Mars plans. Click here. (6/6)
Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Source: Space Review)
In recent years military space policy has received heightened attention, particularly given concerns about the vulnerability of US national security satellites. Dwayne Day recaps a recent panel discussion about the US policy and what changes, if any, are needed. Click here. (6/6)

Blue Origin: Florida an "Informed Consumer" of Space Business (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
The launch vehicles Blue Origin will build in Florida could be ready for the first launch from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport’s Launch Complex 36 by 2020. Scott Henderson called Florida an “informed consumer” when it comes to working with space businesses. He cited the state’s advantages for launch providers, including its geographical location, straightforward environmental approval processes, low operating costs, tax incentives, and an easier regulatory environment.

Blue Origin’s presence in Florida will push Spaceport Florida’s launch infrastructure to the limit – as several speakers during the Space Congress noted 30 launches were expected at the Cape this year, with more coming in the future. “As you go to more frequent launches, items that weren’t constraints when used once a month become constraints now,” Henderson said. One example Henderson cited was the availability of airspace corridors, which must be cleared for launch.

Despite these pending constraints, Colonel Eric Krystkowiak of the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing and KSC Director Bob Cabana expressed confidence that the spaceport’s facilities will be able to meet commercial launch needs in the future. (6/6)

Aging Aerospace Workforce Seeks Young Talent in Colorado (Source: Denver Post)
Susan Lavrakas, a workforce specialist for the Aerospace Industries Association, said that for the past decade aerospace leaders have feared a retirement rush was coming. As such, they’ve thrown their resources at encouraging young people to pursue science and math degrees and, eventually, aerospace careers.

“We can’t wait for somebody else to solve this,” she said. According to an annual report last year, more than 25 percent of the industry’s workforce was over the age of 55, and more than 10 percent were over 61. “A lot of people like myself decided to work a few more years than they otherwise would have,” she said. (6/6)

White House Works Out Process to Clear Commercial Moon Missions (Source: GeekWire)
After months of discussion, federal agencies are closing in on a process to approve commercial missions to other celestial bodies – including the moon, Mars and asteroids. The groundwork for the process was laid in April, when the White House told Congress that the Transportation Department was the most appropriate entity to approve new kinds of commercial space missions such as on-orbit satellite servicing and trips beyond Earth orbit.

Now the FAA and other agencies are “working through the interagency process to ensure a mechanism is in place that permits emerging commercial space operations,” FAA spokesman Hank Price said. Authorization and oversight of space missions, even commercial missions, are federal responsibilities under the terms of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. The federal government is charged with ensuring that U.S. space missions won’t harm Earth or cause undue harm to other celestial bodies, for example.

In the past, NASA has addressed those treaty obligations for government-funded missions to deep space – but until now, the government hasn’t had to address the questions raised by commercial missions beyond Earth orbit. (6/6)

Commercial Space Pioneer, Former FAA Space Chief, Passes Away (Source: Space News)
Patricia Grace Smith, a former head of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s commercial space transportation office who helped foster the growth of the industry, unexpectedly passed away June 5.

Smith had been battling pancreatic cancer for about a year, according to those familiar with her passing. Her death took the industry by surprise, as she had not widely shared her diagnosis, and appeared in good health at events as recently as April. (6/6)

No comments: