July 6, 2016

The Seattle Space Scene (Source: Space Review)
Seattle is working to make a name for itself as a hub for the entrepreneurial space industry. Jeff Foust reports on what companies and local officials think make the region stand out, and what obstacles it faces. Click here. (7/5)
SIGINT Satellites Go to War (Source: Space Review)
During the 1960s, the United States ramped up its development of signals intelligence satellites, and found new uses for them as well. Dwayne Day describes how satellites developed for identifying radars in the Soviet Union also played a role in the Vietnam War. Click here. (7/5)
A Review of the Atlantic Council’s Ideas for a National Security Space Strategy (Source: Space Review)
A new white paper by the Atlantic Council offers proposals to revise the current US national security space policy. Christopher Stone argues that the new proposal is in many ways similar to the current policy, and has the same flaws. Click here. (7/5)

The Red Tape Keeping Private Companies from Getting Us Into Space (Source: Washington Examiner)
Technological innovations are rapidly enabling humanity to explore the celestial frontier, and space companies are looking at commercial ventures ranging from space tourism to mineral mining. The only thing that stands to hinder progress, observers say, is government regulation. "Right now, American companies that want to be involved in space have to jump through hoops for three federal agencies and their armies of lawyers and bureaucrats," said Florida Republican Rep. Bill Posey.

After years of trying to pass legislation that would enable those companies to work independently of the Pentagon or other federal agencies, Posey succeeded in November, when the president signed the Commercial Space Launch Competitive Act into law. The legislation carried with bipartisan support, including both members of Florida's split Senate delegation, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

"What we've worked on is trying to streamline the process," Posey said. "It's important we encourage the growth of commercial space, and that's what the bill does." He added that it freed companies from the prospect of the federal government laying claim to resources that private actors bring back to Earth, or impose a burdensome tax scheme. (7/5)

NASA's Juno Orbits Jupiter for 20 Month Mission (Source: New York Times)
The NASA spacecraft Juno has reached Jupiter. It will orbit for 20 months searching for clues to the solar system's origins. Ducking through intense belts of violent radiation as it skimmed over the clouds of Jupiter at 130,000 miles per hour, NASA’s Juno spacecraft on Monday finally clinched its spot in the orbit of the solar system’s largest planet.

It took five years for Juno to travel this far on its $1.1 billion mission, and the moment was one that NASA scientists and space enthusiasts had eagerly — and anxiously — anticipated. At 11:53 p.m. Eastern time, a signal from the spacecraft announced the end of a 35-minute engine burn that left it in the grip of its desired orbit around Jupiter. Cheers erupted at the mission operations center at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, Calif., which is managing Juno. (7/4)

Ukraine, US Plan to Launch Jointly-Developed Space Rocket in Coming Months (Source: Sputnik)
Ukraine and the United States are planning to launch a jointly-developed rocket in the coming months, as part of the two countries' space cooperation, Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States Valeriy Chaly said. On May 30, head of the State Space Agency of Ukraine Lyubomyr Sabadosh said that Ukraine proposed to the United States joint development and production of rocket engines to replace Russia’s RD-180 that the US side buys for its space industry.

Chaly added that Kiev had been unable to hold a joint meeting with representatives of the United States on cooperation in the space sector since 2008, but such a meeting took place some two weeks ago. "I hope that this will not be such a sensation. We are planning to launch a jointly-developed rocket with the United States in the coming months. We have serious achievements in the cooperation on the launch," Chaly said. (7/4)

After Brexit, Will Another UK Astronaut Ever Go to the International Space Station? (Source: Quartz)
When Tim Peake went into space—the first British astronaut go with the European Space Agency (ESA), and the first British citizen to visit the International Space Station (ISS)—many expected it to inspire a new generation of his countrymen to follow him.

But within days of Peake’s return to Earth last week, his country voted to leave the European Union. Will that have an effect on Brits who want to go into space in the future? No, or at least not yet. Although Brexit has put all policies into flux—including the UK’s space program—it doesn’t mean that British astronauts will suddenly lose their ability to go to the ISS.

The UK, however, has no astronaut training program and it’s unlikely it ever will. Such programs are hugely expensive, which may make them unpopular in post-Brexit Britain. And although the ESA is separate from the EU, if one of its programs is funded or partly funded by the EU, the contracts for that part of the project can only be granted to companies from an EU country. (6/29)

Satellite Operator SES Swallows Rival O3b (Source: Space Daily)
European satellite operator SES announced Monday it was disbursing $730 million (655 million euros) to acquire the remaining half of O3b, a rival with satellites in lower orbits that offers fast connections. "The acquisition of O3b -- the fastest growing satellite network -- significantly enhances SES's long-term growth profile," the company's chief financial officer, Padraig McCarthy, said in a statement.

One of the leading satellite communications operators, SES dates from the 1980s and operates a fleet of over 50 satellites stationed in fixed orbits high above the earth. O3b, however, was launched less than a decade ago. The company uses lower orbits to provide communications with shorter delays in transmission, making it possible to transmit larger volumes of data at a lower cost -- a key demand among mobile and Internet providers in developing nations. (7/4)

Poland and China Agree on Space Cooperation (Source: Space News)
Poland's space agency has signed a cooperative agreement with its Chinese counterpart. The agreement, signed by the presidents of the two countries during a state visit in Warsaw in late June, covers joint research, monitoring and developing new telecommunications solutions. The POLSA space agency has previously signed cooperative agreements with its counterparts in France, Italy, Ukraine and Brazil. (7/4)

South Korea Offers High-Res Satellite Imagery (Source: Yonhap)
South Korea plans to sell high-resolution images from a satellite launched last year. Kompsat-3A, also known as Arirang-3A, was built by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute and launched on a Dnepr rocket in March 2015. After more than a year of on-orbit tests, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning said Monday it will begin commercial sales of images from the spacecraft. Arirang-3A is capable of taking images with resolutions of 0.5 meters or better. (7/5)

China Plans 14 New Weather Satellites (Source: Xinhua)
China plans to launch 14 new weather satellites by 2025. Those spacecraft include one FengYun-2 geostationary satellite, four FengYun-3 polar orbiting satellites and three FengYun-4 satellites, a next-generation version of the FengYun-2. Six other satellites will serve "multiple meteorological purposes," according to a Chinese official. (7/4)

Enterprise Florida Executive Pay Increased 75 Percent in Six Years (Source: Tallahassee Democrat)
Leaders of Enterprise Florida, the state's public-private economic partnership under scrutiny for overspending, increased their executive payroll by $600,000 over six years while only adding two employees. The total amount for executive salaries increased 75 percent  from $800,494 for seven positions in 2010-11 to $1.4 million for nine positions in May, the summary information shows.

The agency has refused to release details about those salaries and others, providing only summaries. However, state law specifically requires Enterprise Florida to follow the same public records rules as other state agencies.

Now facing critics in the Republican-controlled Legislature, the Enterprise Florida board voted Friday to lay off 12 people, eliminate 12 open positions and force two senior vice presidents into retirement. The move will save the agency $2.14 million. Scott has said the agency would need to cut $6 million to make up for the loss of $250 million in incentive funding denied by the Legislature. (7/4)

Suzuki to Help Japanese Team Shoot for the Moon (Source: Nikkei)
Suzuki Motor has inked a partnership deal with a private-sector team developing a lunar probe. The Hakuto project, led by Tokyo-based startup ispace technologies, brings together academics and experts from a variety of backgrounds. Hakuto is the sole Japanese team competing for the Google Lunar Xprize, which awards money to the first group to land a privately funded rover on the moon and have it travel a certain distance. (7/6)

What Comes Next For NASA After Juno? Not Much (Source: NPR)
The exploration of our outer solar system is about to hit a real slump. NASA is celebrating Juno's arrival at Jupiter, but in less than two years, Juno will be gone — it's slated to plunge into the gas giant and burn up. The Cassini spacecraft, now orbiting Saturn, will meet the same fate next year.

NASA does have some upcoming missions closer to home. In September, one mission will go off toward an asteroid, aiming to return a sample to Earth. And there are a couple of missions that will go back to Mars: a big rover in 2020, and a lander that was supposed to launch this year but got delayed until 2018.

Usually NASA has one or two launches of planetary missions a year, says Jason Barnes, who chairs the division for planetary sciences of the American Astronomical Society. "Basically we're suffering now from what were budget cuts to the planetary budget that started in 2013 with the sequester," Barnes says. NASA's planetary science budget got slashed by about 20 percent, and managers scrambled to save missions that were already underway. Barnes says almost all planning for future missions was put off. (7/6)

Five Times We Wished We Worked at NASA (Source: USA Today)
NASA’s Juno spacecraft just completed its five-year journey across 1.8 billion miles of space, and it’s a pretty big deal. It's a great time to work at NASA. After all, what other businesses let employees reach for the stars, literally? Here are a few other times we wished we paid more attention in science class. Click here. (7/5)

Urthecast Lays Off San Francisco Staff (Source: Space News)
Earth imaging company UrtheCast laid off 12 members of its San Francisco-based platform and data analytics team July 1 and offered three additional employees the option to remain with the company but work remotely, according to a former UrtheCast employee.

Jeff Rath, UrtheCast executive vice president for corporate finance and strategy, confirmed that the Vancouver-based company did “reduce its San Francisco footprint” and “let a few employees go” but he denied reports that the firm closed its San Francisco office and declined to comment on the number of workers affected, saying the company does not publicize personnel decisions. (7/5)

Blue Origin, OneWeb Start Work on Space Coast Additions (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Exploration Park at Kennedy Space Center has been a fairly quiet place since it was opened in 2011 to attract more space industry, following the end of the space shuttle program. But that is set to change fast now. Commercial space company Blue Origin, owned by Jeff Bezos, has broken ground on a new 750,000-square-foot rocket manufacturing plant on Florida's Space Coast. And, satellite manufacturer OneWeb has a contractor ready to start prep work on what will eventually contain a 100,000-square-foot facility down the street. Click here. (7/5)

Moon-Cargo Poster Rockets Past Fundraising Goal (Source: Space.com)
A crowdfunded campaign to sell illustrated posters of every item that flew to the moon on Apollo 11 has raised more than 14 times its initial goal, with more than two weeks until the campaign ends. Visual artist Rob Loukotka's poster features 69 detailed illustrations of items that flew to the moon in 1969. The poster also lists the additional items (more than 200 in total) that made the journey. Click here. (7/5)

Chemistry on Titan Could Lay the Groundwork for Life (Source: Space.com)
Saturn's biggest moon, Titan, may possess the kind of chemistry that could eventually lead to life, albeit without water, a new study finds. Titan is larger than the planet Mercury, making it the biggest of the more than 60 known moons orbiting Saturn. The moon's surface is covered in rivers, lakes and oceans of methane, which also rains from the sky. This methane cycle, similar to Earth's water cycle, can make Titan seem like an equally familiar and alien location.

Now, using computer models, a group of researchers has shown that a chemical on Titan's surface could lay the groundwork for the formation of life. In Titan's cold atmosphere, this ingredient can act as a catalyst for chemical reactions, and potentially absorb energy from sunlight, even through Titan's thick clouds. (7/5)

New Clues in Search for Planet Nine (Source: Science News)
More clues about where to search for a possible ninth planet lurking in the fringes of our solar system are emerging from the Kuiper belt, the icy debris field beyond Neptune. And new calculations suggest that the putative planet might be brighter — and a bit easier to find — than once thought.

Evidence for the existence of Planet Nine is scant, based on apparent alignments among the orbits of the six most distant denizens of the Kuiper belt. Their oval orbits all point in roughly the same direction and lie in about the same plane, suggesting that a hidden planet, about five to 20 times as massive as Earth, has herded them onto similar trajectories.

Planetary scientists Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin, both at Caltech, announced this evidence in January. Now they’ve used it to refine Planet Nine’s properties and narrow in on where it might be hiding. Planet Nine’s average distance from the sun is most likely between 500 and 600 times as far as Earth’s, Brown and Batygin report. Its orbit is highly stretched and tipped by about 30 degrees relative to the rest of the solar system, taking it well above and below the orbits of the eight known worlds. (7/5)

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