July 15, 2016

Japan Hopes for Hitomi Replacement (Source: Asahi Shimbun)
The Japanese space agency JAXA is seeking to fly a replacement for the Hitomi astronomy spacecraft lost earlier this year. JAXA officials said Thursday they want the government to develop an updated version of Hitomi that could launch as soon as 2020. Hitomi, launched in February, went into an uncontrolled spin in March because of a series of errors, causing spacecraft components to break off and ending the mission. Japan's science and technology ministry will study the options for a new mission "in the days ahead," according to a report. (7/15)

FCC Approves 5G Wireless Plans, Despite Satellite Interference Concerns (Sources: Reuters, SIA)
The Federal Communications Commission approved plans Thursday to develop 5G wireless broadband systems despite some interference concerns from satellite operators. FCC commissioners voted unanimously to allow the use of spectrum in several bands between 28 and 39 gigahertz for next-generation terrestrial wireless broadband systems. U.S. companies are planning tests of 5G systems in 2017 with full-scale deployment around 2020. The satellite industry was concerned that use of that spectrum for terrestrial systems could interfere with satellite applications at similar frequencies. The Satellite Industry Association, in a statement, said it was encouraged by some provisions in the FCC decision but remained worried about "potential aggregate interference." (7/15)

Precursor to Commercial Space Station? NASA Seeks Ideas for ISS Docking Port (Source: Space News)
NASA is seeking ideas for how it can use a docking port on the ISS. The agency released earlier this month a request for information about use of "limited availability, unique" capabilities on the station, specifically mentioning a docking port being used temporarily by the experimental BEAM module. NASA officials suggest the port could later host a commercial module as a precursor for a full-fledged commercial space station once the ISS is retired. Both Bigelow Aerospace and Axiom Space have expressed interest in developing commercial modules that could initially be docked on the ISS. (7/15)

Antares/Cygnus Return-to-Flight Confirmed for Aug. 22 at Virginia Spaceport (Source: NASA)
NASA has set a new launch date for the next Cygnus mission of no earlier than August 22. The launch, from Wallops Island, Virginia, will be the first for the upgraded version of Orbital ATK's Antares rocket using RD-181 main engines, replacing the AJ26 engines implicated in the Antares launch failure in October 2014. NASA and Orbital ATK had recently only said the launch would take place some time in August. (7/15)

Glenn's Mercury Flight Instructions Up for Auction (Source CollectSpace)
Instructions used by John Glenn on his historic 1962 Mercury flight are up for action. The instructions are in the form of a scroll more than one meter long that Glenn could move up and down during the course of his flight, the first U.S. crewed orbital mission. The auction runs through July 21, and the minimum bid for the instructions is $25,000. (7/15)

Opinion: Can Aircraft And Space Traffic Coexist? (Source: Aviation Week)
In addition to some 70,000 aircraft traversing the National Airspace System (NAS) each day, commercial enterprises are rapidly introducing a widening variety of new space vehicles and launchers into it. In 2015, 22 of the world’s 86 orbital launches were commercial. And today, vertical launch vehicles with “fly-back” boosters that return to Earth autonomously, launchers that take off and land on runways, and captive-carry concepts are operational or in testing and production.

For the last several years, the FAA has been working on how to accommodate these new operators in the safest and most efficient manner possible. In this endeavor, it has enlisted Mitre Corp., a not-for-profit organization that operates the agency’s federally funded research and development center. The agency has identified several needs that are critical to its long-term vision and goal of integrating space vehicle operations into the everyday cadence of NAS operations.

One is the ability to track space vehicles and fly-back boosters—and their jettisoned parts—as they transit to and return from space so FAA air traffic controllers and flow managers can develop and execute traffic management plans strategically and dynamically. Currently, the FAA must clear large blocks of airspace around the launch and recovery sites to ensure sufficient buffer zones, particularly in case of malfunctions. Click here. (7/15)

How a NASA Engineer Created the Modern Airplane Wing (Source: Space Daily)
Once dubbed "the man who could see air," NASA engineer Richard T. Whitcomb used a combination of visualization and intuition to revolutionize modern aviation - by turning the shape of the airplane wing on its head. For decades, Whitcomb had been working on getting aircraft to move faster and more efficiently. By the time he was 34, he had already won the most prestigious honor in aviation, the 1954 Collier Trophy, for his critical work to overcome the aviation challenge of the day - the sound barrier. Click here. (7/13)

What To Avoid When Patenting Government-Funded Inventions (Source: Law360)
Under the Bayh-Dole Act, a small business can patent an invention made with federal funding. But if the small business doesn’t properly notify the government about the invention, then the government can take title to the patent or patent application. Worse, if takes title, the government does not have to license the patent to the small business. In some circumstances, the government can even take title to inventions conceived outside the scope of the funding agreement. (7/14)

This is What it Would Look Like to Land on the Surface of Pluto (Source: WIRED)
Now, to celebrate 365 days since its flyby, the space agency has simulated what it would be like to land on the surface. The video is only a concept and has been stitched together from more than 100 images taken by the spacecraft. In the 12 months since the passing of Pluto and its moons, New Horizons has beamed back reams of data for scientists to analyze. Click here. (7/15)

UK Mounts ‘Spaceport’ Feasibility Studies (Source: Advanced Television)
The UK government has awarded 5 businesses with feasibility study contracts, worth in total £1.5 million, (€1.8m) to a group of industrial operations in order to evaluate the practicality of mounting orbital or sub-orbital ‘rocket flights’ from the UK. The five teams are:

Airbus-Safran Launchers, which is keen to build a small satellite launcher as well as working on a space tourism rocket. Deimos Space UK, which is developing a vertical launch rocket. Lockheed Martin, which wants to build a version of its Athena satellite launch system. Virgin Galactic, which is planning its SpaceShipTwo sub-orbital launcher. And Orbital Access of the UK, which is working with BAE Systems and Reaction Engines on a modified single-stage-to-orbit system. (7/14)

Russia, China Move Closer to Joint Moon, Mars Missions (Source: Washington Times)
The U.S. might soon see two of its Cold War adversaries move closer to an agreement on joint missions to colonize Mars and the moon. Russia and China discussed expanding their cooperation to explore outer space, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said. The lead officials for Chinese-Russian relations announced plans for joint space exploration last April, suggesting they might establish a Sino-Russian base on the moon. One year later, they’ve added Mars to the discussion.

“We’re developing an understanding for the rocket and space industry for possible interaction in such profound and technologically complex projects as the future exploration of the moon, Mars and piloted cosmonautics,” Mr. Rogozin said. The Russian vice-premier made the announcement during a talk with the heads of Russian regions and Chinese provinces and the managers of companies from both nations in Yekaterinburg, Russia. (7/14)

This Russian Space Program Tour Includes Witnessing a Live Launch (Source: Travel & Leisure)
If you're feeling nostalgic for the Cold War-era space race, an agency specializing in travel to Russia has the tour for you. MIR Corporation is offering an “exclusive tour” of the Russian space program this September for $14,495 per person. It's an unusual opportunity to see the history of Russian space exploration while also witnessing history in the making. (7/14)

Hawaiian Student Taking Part in Big Island Mars Simulation (Source: KITV)
A dome in a lava field on Mauna Loa on the Big Island will be the home for Tristan Bassinthwaite until the end of August. Bassinthwaite and five others have been living in the dome as part of an 8-month space exploration project.  His homework while he's here is to design structures for other people to someday live in other lava fields.

"It can be underground, in a dome, in printed ice dome, in a 3-D printed structure, a tin can," said Bassinthwaite. From the lava fields of the Big Island to Mars, where one might encounter inhospitable environments, these structures will serve as safety containers for human life.  The rough surface conditions on the lava fields on Mauna Loa are similar to the surface of the Red Planet. (7/14)

Space Vets To Lawmakers: Stay The Course (Source: Aviation Week)
The U.S. should stay the course with the Space Launch System exploration rocket and Orion crew capsule to underpin NASA’s human deep-space exploration ambitions, while fostering a growing commercial presence in low Earth orbit as the U.S. undergoes a transition in presidential administrations, industry and government veterans told members of Congress during a hearing this week. (7/14)

NanoRacks Advances International Space Station Utilization (Source: NanoRacks)
NanoRacks is proudly advancing International Space Station (ISS) utilization across a wide range of users – from education to international organizations to professional researchers – both inside and outside of Station – all on one mission. On SpaceX’s Commercial Resupply Mission-9 (SpaceX-9), scheduled for the early hours of Monday July 18, are over 25 payloads that will utilize NanoRacks commercial research facilities both in the U.S. National Lab and external to Station. (7/15)

ESA Plans Euro-Russian Lunar Exploration to Go Beyond Apollo (Source: Space News)
The European Space Agency’s penchant for a major lunar exploration program that would precede a full-scale exploration of Mars was fully in evidence on July 12 with the signing of a contract to put an ESA drill on Russia’s Luna-Resurs lunar lander. It remains unclear whether ESA’s principal member states, notably France, share the 22-nation agency’s emerging “Moon First, Mars Later” opinion.

On July 8, the president of the French space agency, Jean-Yves Le Gall, reiterated his view that what’s going on at NASA and in the U.S. private sector, notably with SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, make it more likely that human missions to Mars will occur sooner than the 2030s. French scientists have long preferred Mars to the Moon as an exploration destination and CNES has participated on nearly all the NASA-led Mars missions in recent years. (7/14)

Building a Commercial Market in Low Earth Orbit (Source: Space Daily)
This April marked the sixth anniversary of President Obama's landmark address on space policy at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In his speech, the President set out the goal of sending American astronauts to Mars in the 2030s, using a strategy that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship in space exploration through investments in new space technologies and partnerships with the private sector as well as academia and other non-traditional partners.

Six years later, we have made great progress toward our goals, and the commercial space industry is expanding rapidly. The United States is closer to sending human beings to Mars than anyone, anywhere, at any time has ever been.In the next decade, NASA's human space exploration program will shift its focus from operations in low-Earth orbit (LEO) to moving out in to Earth-Moon orbits, namely, cislunar and deep space, where astronauts are days, or weeks, away from Earth. (7/14)

Senators Hope SLS/Orion Can Avoid Constellation's Fate (Source: Space News)
Members of the Senate's space subcommittee said Wednesday they want SLS and Orion to avoid the same fate as Constellation. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), chairman of the subcommittee, said he wants to give NASA "security and stability" for those programs during the upcoming presidential transition, and warned of dire consequences to NASA and industry should the next president cancel those programs.

NASA and other witnesses said work on SLS and Orion is going well and those programs are farther along now than Constellation was eight years ago. Members of the subcommittee suggested they would seek to pass a new NASA authorization bill, but offered no timeline for that legislation. (7/14)

Chinese Space Lab Reentry Not an Immediate Concern (Source: Mashable)
A Chinese space laboratory module does not pose a near-term risk of reentry, according to satellite observers. The Tiangong-1 module has been retired by China, and it's unclear if Chinese engineers have the ability to perform a controlled reentry of the spacecraft. However, the spacecraft's orbit is delaying slowly, and will not reenter until some time next year even if China takes no action to adjust its orbit. (7/14)

Where is JPL? (Source: San Gabriel Valley Tribune)
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which sends spacecraft across the solar system with great precision, doesn't know exactly where on Earth it is. Two California cities, Pasadena and La Cañada Flintridge, claim to be the home of JPL. The lab is within the city limits of La Cañada Flintridge, but the lab predates the incorporation of the city, and continues to use Pasadena as its mailing address and in its own press releases. Pasadena is also more familiar to the general public, and to film industry that has cooperated with JPL on movies like The Martian. "I think between Hollywood and the Post Office, we’ve got it covered," said Terry Tornek, mayor of Pasadena. (7/13)

Next SpaceX Launch Will Bring Critical Docking Adapter to ISS (Source: The Verge)
The International Space Station is getting an important piece of cargo next week: a new International Docking Adapter, or IDA, that will allow future crewed spacecraft to automatically dock with the station. The large metallic ring, which measures 63 inches in diameter, will eventually be installed on the Harmony module. This is the second IDA to be sent to space, though the first one never actually made it to orbit; it was destroyed when the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying it to the ISS disintegrated during launch in June 2015.

This new IDA is slated to launch early Monday morning from Cape Canaveral, Florida on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The vehicle will carry around 3,800 pounds of fresh cargo and science experiments, including a space-based DNA sequencer called minION that will be used by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins to sequence DNA in space for the first time. But the IDA is perhaps the key item onboard. (7/14)

DigitalGlobe Unveils Next-Generation Imaging Satellite (Source: Tech Crunch)
Dr.Walter Scott, founder and CTO of DigitalGlobe, spent nearly four years designing and building WorldView 4. All the components are powered by solar panels on the base-unit. WorldView uses a standard base-unit from Lockheed Martin to cut down on costs and uses a custom adapter to connect the optics.

WorldView 4 is very similar in design to WorldView 3, the company’s previous imaging satellite. The United States Government currently has first priority over WorldView 3 but has not paid for first-priority direct access to the new satellite. This opens up additional opportunities to leverage imaging in the private sector. A second high-powered satellite will allow WorldView 3 to spend less time in transit for shoots. This amounts to more time capturing imagery for both satellites.

There’s a good chance that you’ve seen DigitalGlobe’s technology before. A large portion of satellite imagery in Google Maps and Google Earth comes from the company. WorldView 4 will be launching with the United Launch Alliance on an Atlas 5 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base on September 15th 2016. (7/14)

Iridium Satellites Rolling Off Assembly Line in Arizona (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
Construction is complete on the first batch of 81 new satellites to overhaul Iridium’s mobile communications network, and the data relay stations will soon head from their factory near Phoenix to California’s hilly Central Coast for launch in September on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The satellites will be shipped in pairs on a truck to Vandenberg Air Force Base, where they will be fueled and mated with the Falcon 9 launcher for liftoff at 10:33 p.m. PDT on Sept. 11 from Space Launch Complex 4-East. The flight will mark the third Falcon 9 launch from Vandenberg, and the first launch from there of an upgraded “full-thrust” version of the booster with higher-power Merlin engines and super-chilled propellants. (7/14)

Now is the Perfect Time to Sequence DNA in Space (Source: Inverse)
Very early Monday morning in Florida, SpaceX will launch its flagship Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station and send 2,200 pounds of supplies in its ninth ISS resupply mission. The cargo includes crew supplies, tools and objects needed for the 250 new and ongoing scientific investigations being carried out on the space station, and essential hardware that will improve the stations functionality.

The scientific tools going up on this mission are particularly exciting this time around. At a press conference held Wednesday \ at the International Space Station R&D Conference 2016, NASA researchers and administrators discussed four major scientific and technological investigations that will begin after the Dragon capsule delivers the necessary supplies.

In line with increased biological research happening on the ISS, NASA will conduct the first-ever DNA sequencing experiment in space. Sarah Wallace, a microbiologist at Johnson Space Center, and her team are sending up a prototype DNA sequencer that she describes as half the size of a smartphone — “incredibly small,” she says. The device is actually capable of doing much more than parsing through DNA, and can sequence RNA and proteins as well. (7/13)

A Medical Revolution Is Underway in Orbit (Source: Inverse)
If you get sick here on Earth, there’s a pretty standard set of things you do to get a diagnosis. You can provide some blood, hop in an fMRI, pee in a cup, or get your throat cultured. Then it’s off to the pharmacy with you for that prescription that will accelerate the recovery process or make the symptoms a little more bearable. This is how the modern world does medicine, but the infrastructure that allows for this order of operations is too vast, unwieldy, and expensive to shoot into outer space. So, if humans are to leave Earth, we must first figure out a way to stay alive and healthy in a new environment. We’ve got our smartest people working on it.

Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, California, has some thoughts. Topol, a leading expert on emerging trends in healthcare and medicine, sat down with Ellen Stofan, NASA’s chief scientist, at the International Space Station R&D Conference 2016 this week to provide some insight on what astronauts of the future might be doing to diagnose and treat their own medical problems without a physician close by, and how NASA and other space agencies are investigating and advancing these new technologies and techniques. (7/13)

UK Campbeltown Spaceport Plans Progressing (Source: Argyll-Bute)
A spokesman for DiscoverSpaceUK said: “We continue to develop our business model and engage with a number of aerospace companies to make them aware of the distinct advantages Machrihanish and Campbeltown can offer and firmly believe that the assets and location offer a complete and safe spaceport solution. (7/14)

CFS Debuts Campaign About Space Exploration (Source: MediaPost)
The Commercial Spaceflight Federation, the industry association for the private space industry, and its agency Viceroy Creative are introducing a new campaign to make space exploration sexy.
Since NASA, no other team of specialists, including individuals that have been to space and have worked in the industry, have come together to brand a company in this way. They say this is the first time an organization is bringing everyone together to create an unified message.

"The famous companies have done a great job in press and marketing – Virgin, SpaceX, Blue Origin – but there is a whole constellation of companies working in this field," says David Moritz, president, Viceroy Creative. "Everything from vehicles to rocket parts, software, spacesuits, everything that’s necessary.  People need to be aware of how cool it is that private companies are doing this work, and that space is open for business." (7/13)

UF Scientist Wins Life Science Research Award (Source: AIAA)
Recognizing the importance to aeronautics of scientific endeavors in the field of medicine, the Jeffries Aerospace Medicine and Life Sciences Research Award was established in 1940 to honor the memory of the American physician, John Jeffries, whose scientific investigations were published in a “Narrative of Two Aerial Voyages” in 1786.

Dr. Robert J. Ferl of the University of Florida won this year's award in the category of Technical Excellence for conducting cutting edge space biology, and for mentoring others in spaceflight research; pushing the boundaries of where biology can travel. (7/14)

Embry-Riddle Professor Honored in Florida Space Worker Hall of Fame (Source: SPACErePORT)
The National Space Club's Florida Committee will honor multiple Floridians for their excellent work in support of the state's space industry during an August 9 luncheon at Cape Canaveral. Among the inductees to the Florida Space Worker Hall of Fame will be Dr. Lance Erickson, who spearheaded the development of a Space Operations undergraduate degree program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univerity in Daytona Beach. (7/14)

Why Did Jimmy Carter Save the Space Shuttle? (Source: Ars Technica)
This could not go on, and according to Kraft the situation boiled over during a 1978 meeting in a large conference floor on the 9th floor of Building 1, the Houston center’s headquarters. All the program managers and other center directors gathered there along with NASA’s top leadership. That meeting included Administrator Robert Frosch, a physicist President Carter had appointed a year earlier.

Kraft recalls laying bare the budget jeopardy faced by the shuttle. “We were totally incapable of meeting any sort of flight schedule,” he said. Further postponing the vehicle would only add to the problem because the vehicle’s high payroll costs would just be carried forward.

There were two possible solutions proposed, Kraft said. One was a large funding supplement to get development programs back on track. Absent that, senior leaders felt they would have to declare the shuttle a research vehicle, like the rocket-powered X-15, which had made 13 flights to an altitude as high as 50 miles in the 1960s. “We were going to have to turn it, really, into a nothing vehicle,” Kraft said. “We were going to have to give up on the shuttle being a delivery vehicle into orbit.” Click here. (7/14)

Eileen Collins to Speak at Trump Convention (Source: Space Policy Online)
Former NASA astronaut Eileen Collins, the first woman to command a space shuttle mission, is slated to speak at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next week. Collins, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel who has publicly criticized the way the Obama administration canceled NASA’s Constellation return-to-the-moon program, is scheduled to speak July 20, the day before Donald Trump, the GOP’s presumptive nominee, is due to give his acceptance speech. (7/14)

Could the Juno Spacecraft Crash Into Europa? (Source: Mic)
The Juno spacecraft orbiting around Jupiter right now is giving us a lot of reasons to get excited. But there's one huge worry lurking in the back of NASA scientists' minds. If something were to go wrong with the mission, it's possible the spacecraft could crash into and contaminate one of the most likely places we might find alien life in the solar system: Jupiter's icy moon Europa.

Scientists have long suspected Europa harbors a massive, subsurface ocean that might have the right ingredients for life. So the Juno team has to take extra caution while flying the spacecraft so close to the potentially life-harboring moon. (7/14)

Did NASA Deliberately Cut a Live Feed of a UFO? (Source: USA Today)
Is NASA trying to cover up a UFO sighting? Space conspiracy theorists are accusing NASA of cutting a live stream from the International Space Station just as an unidentified object comes into view. Theories began swirling on YouTube earlier this week after YouTube user Streepcap1 posted a video of the stream on July 9.

In the clip, a bright object is seen slowly falling into view, before the screen flashes that the there are technical problems with the feed. While Streepcap1 notes that the object may not be alien life, the user points out that the feed stopping is strange. “This could well be a meteor or the like,” Streetcap1 says in the caption. “What made it interesting was the camera cut off when the UFO seemed to stop.”

So, just what is NASA hiding? NASA spokesman Daniel Huot said the live feed was not deliberately cut. Huot said cameras mounted on the ISS are controlled automatically. "The station regularly passes out of range of the Tracking and Data Relay Satellites used to send and receive video, voice and telemetry from the station," Huot said. "For video, whenever we lose signal the cameras will show a blue screen or a preset video slate." (7/14)

Two More Virginia Suborbital Launches Planned This Year (Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch)
There will be two more suborbital rocket launches this year from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's Eastern Shore. The facility near Chincoteague plans to launch a Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket between 6 and 10 a.m. Aug. 16. Backup launch dates are Aug. 17-19. The date for the other launch was not announced. (7/14)

Small Businesses Discouraged by NASA Bureaucracy (Source: Satellite Today)
Procurement bureaucracy and Small Business Administration (SBA) regulations are discouraging small businesses from contracting with NASA, according to industry executives. Carol Craig, president and CEO of Craig Technologies in Cape Canaveral, Florida, told a Congressional House of Representatives panel Tuesday, July 12 that slipping timelines, unpredictable budgets, lots of paperwork and certification, and the lack of milestone payments are making smaller businesses look to other federal agencies for business.

Craig also said NASA makes life difficult for these smaller businesses by not accommodating other customers. She said NASA might slip a timeline but not be flexible when another agency’s delivery deadline coincides with the civil space agency’s new delivery date. (7/14)

U.K. Backs Aerospace R&D Projects, But Not Replacing EU Funds Yet (Source: Aviation Week)
U.K. government and industry has announced almost £365 million ($480 million) in new commercial aerospace research projects, but the funding comes from money already committed before the June 23 vote to leave the European Union (EU) and does not replace funding from European programs. The funding comes from £3.9 billion that government and industry have committed jointly to spend on civil aerospace R&D over 13 years to 2026, through the Aerospace Technology Institute. (7/15)

Largest-Ever Map of 1.2 Million Galaxies Measures Dark Energy (Source: New Scientist)
The largest ever 3D map of the universe pinpoints the position of more than a million galaxies, and has allowed scientists to make one of the most precise measurements yet of dark energy – the mysterious unexplained force that is causing the universe to expand at an accelerating rate.

“Over the last decade we have prepared and conducted the largest survey of the universe yet,” says Rita Tojeiro at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, who co-led the international team. “By measuring the positions of 1.2 million galaxies over one quarter of the sky, we mapped the three-dimensional structure of the universe over a volume of 650 cubic billion light years. Using this map we were able to make some of the crispest measurements yet of how dark energy is driving the expansion of the universe.” Click here. (7/14)

NASA, USAID Open Environmental Monitoring Hub in West Africa (Source: NASA)
NASA and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have opened a new environmental monitoring program in West Africa that will enhance the role of space-based observations in the management of climate-sensitive issues facing the world today.

SERVIR-West Africa, based in Niamey, Niger, is one of four NASA-USAID sponsored centers operating in developing regions of the world. This SERVIR center is the newest facility for a growing global community of scientists and decision-makers who are using publicly available data from space to manage climate-sensitive issues, such as food security, water resources, land use change and natural disasters. (7/14)

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