July 8, 2016

Stott: Such Great Heights (Source: Pegasus)
In 2009, Nicole Stott ’92 spent 91 days in space, which gave her a new perspective on life. Now she wants to share it with the world through art. Click here. (7/7)

Juno Was a Success—But There is Precious Little Coming After It (Source: Ars Technica)
But the party is just about over. NASA, and more particularly the Obama administration, have failed to invest in future planetary science missions. Earlier this year, I had a chance to catch up with Casey Dreier, director of space policy for The Planetary Society. Although generally an ally to the science-minded Obama administration—the society's chief executive Bill Nye often hobnobs with the president—Dreier did not mince words about the The Planetary Society's views.

"I think with President Obama you have a legacy of a missed opportunity to really build on the foundation that he inherited, which was a fleet of spacecraft from Mercury going out to Pluto," Dreier told me. "He had an opportunity to build political bridges. There’s a very high level of bipartisan support for that, and a huge amount of public engagement." (7/7)

NASA Data Show Toxic Air Threat Choking Indian Subcontinent (Source: Bloomberg)
The mega-city of New Delhi has tried everything from banning diesel guzzling SUVs to taking about half the city’s cars off the streets in a fight against air pollution. Officials may yet have to do much, much more, based on National Aeronautics and Space Administration satellite research.

The research depicts how much sunlight is blocked by airborne particles, providing a proxy for levels of pollution. The data show parts of the Indo-Gangetic plain -- stretching across northern India from eastern Pakistan on one side to Bangladesh on the other -- suffer some of the planet’s worst haze in October through January after monsoon rains end in September. (7/6)

Enterprise Florida Giving $1.8 Million for Defense Projects (Source: POST)
This funding will strengthen Florida’s military bases ahead of any potential Department of Defense realignment or closure actions, thereby protecting the more than 774,000 jobs and more than $79.8 billion in economic impact the defense industry supports in Florida.

This grant program is administered by Enterprise Florida, Inc. and are awarded annually, on a project priority basis, to organizations and communities working to protect, preserve and enhance Florida’s military installations and missions. (7/7)

Harris Teams With exactEarth for Maritime Geospatial Solutions (Source: Harris)
As a result of an ever-growing demand for immediate maritime domain awareness, Harris has partnered with exactEarth to deliver a real-time global tracking and information solution that optimizes a global satellite constellation for AIS. We offer exactView RT Powered by Harris, an advanced ship tracking solution with continuous global coverage and real-time connectivity for unmatched maritime domain awareness.

Although relatively new, satellite AIS technology has fundamentally changed the landscape for monitoring the maritime domain. Improving upon existing AIS technology already deployed aboard all large vessels and many smaller vessels around the globe, satellite AIS is truly revolutionary in providing a complete and global picture of the world’s maritime shipping environment. (7/7)

Revive The Planetary Program (Source: Register-Guard)
On Monday, NASA’s Juno probe slipped into orbit around Jupiter — another in a series of technical triumphs that includes last year’s New Horizons flyby of Pluto and the landing of the rover Curiosity on Mars in 2012. The past half-century has been a golden age of planetary exploration, led by the United States.

But the golden age is coming to an end, a victim of budgetary starvation by Congress and the White House. A measure of the next president’s vision will be his or her willingness to revive NASA’s planetary program. Vision is needed, because the fruits of missions approved during the next president’s term won’t be harvested until after he or she has left office.

New Horizons got the green light in 2001, was launched in 2006 and reached Pluto nine years later. Juno was initially approved in 2003 and, after a two-year delay, was launched in 2011. It takes a decade to plan, design and build a planetary probe — and if its destination is one of the outer planets, it can take nearly that long for it to reach its destination. Planetary exploration is not only a test of human ingenuity, but of far-sightedness and perseverance. (7/7)

Japanese Scientists Will Test Out "Space Elevator" Technology Very Soon (Source: Inverse)
The concept of a space elevator has been floating around (not literally, of course) for more than a century. The idea is simple: you travel into space in a vehicle that’s tethered to a cable attached to a counterweight situated in a zero-gravity environment outside of Earth’s atmosphere. You wouldn’t have to worry about using large rockets or massive amounts of combustible fuel to propel yourself into space — you would just use the cable to ascend and descend as needed.

It’s a ridiculous idea, of course (and rocket-less space launch tech has a pretty poor track record so far), but that doesn’t mean serious researchers haven’t tried to figure out whether it can be done. Introducing: STARS-C (Space Tethered Autonomous Robotic Satellite-Cube), a design for a space elevator headed by a team of Japanese scientists at Shizuoka University. It’s basically a micro-satellite that provides a cable connecting Earth with a space station situated high above the planet’s atmosphere, in orbit. (7/7)

Space Florida Approves Road Money, Loan in Space Deals (Source: Florida Politics)
The Space Florida board of directors approved three emergency measures Wednesday to keep two huge spaceport developments in the works, including a deal to use state money to help build a road and another to provide short-term financing.

The board approved the road improvements, to cost up to $2.7 million, to help provide transportation between Blue Origin’s planned rocket manufacturing site in Space Florida’s Exploration Park industrial center, and the company’s leased launch pad at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport.

Space Florida also signed onto a bond deal for up to $3 million to provide a short-term bridge loan to help OneWeb develop its satellite factory at Exploration Park. This will allow the company to accelerate its construction, according to Space Florida President Frank DiBello. The third action involved granting the city of Titusville the power to do building code inspections during the Blue Origin construction. (7/6)

GAO Remains Concerned About Potential Weather Satellite Gap (Source: Space News)
While the first of a new generation of polar-orbiting weather satellites remains on schedule to launch next year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office is concerned that it may slip, increasing the risk of a data gap.

In testimony before the House Science Committee’s environment subcommittee July 7, David Powner, director of information technology management issues at the GAO, argued that National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had downplayed the risk of a gap that could emerge if an instrument on the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) spacecraft fails before the launch of the first Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) satellite next year. (7/7)

Astronauts Embark on a Training Mission Deep Beneath the Earth (Source: National Geographic)
The European Space Agency (ESA) has created a program that challenges astronauts to work together in an unexplored realm that can be as perilous as space: a network of caves half a mile underground in Sardinia, Italy. An international team of six astronauts from the United States, China, Japan, Spain, and Russia began their descent in early July. Their six-day mission is to establish a base camp while conducting scientific experiments.

“Astronauts adopt the ‘buddy system,’ and both astronaut trainers and instructors repeat the same mantras of ‘slow is fast,’ ‘check your gear, and then trust it,’ and ‘always be aware of where you are and where your buddy is,’” says the ESA website. “Their teamwork is an example of what an expedition in an isolated, risky, and alien environment should be.” (7/6)

Station-Bound NASA Astronaut is the 60th Woman to Fly into Space (Source: CollectSpace)
When Kate Rubins was born in 1978, only one woman had flown in space. Now, 38 years later, Rubins is on the verge of becoming the 60th woman to leave the planet. Launch on a Russian spacecraft, Rubins will spend the next four months conducting science on the International Space Station.

“There’s never been a time when I was a kid that I couldn’t remember wanting to be an astronaut. It was always the standard ‘little kid’ answer when I was four, five, six, eight, 12 years old. I wanted to be an astronaut, a biologist and a geologist,” said Rubins. A microbiologist with a doctorate in cancer biology, Rubins will be the first be the first researcher to sequence DNA in space. She was selected to become a NASA astronaut in 2009. (7/6)

$22 Billion Prospects for the Small Satellite Market (Source: Euroconsult)
We are on the cusp of a major revolution for the space sector and overall space ecosystem, as more than 3,600 smallsats are expected to be launched over the next ten years, a significant increase from the previous decade. The total market value of these satellites is anticipated to be $22 billion (manufacture and launch), a 76% increase over that of 2006-2015. This rate of growth is unprecedented for the space sector and will bring about fundamental changes as both new and established industry players attempt to increase their capabilities in order to gain market share.

Including all third-party and in-house manufacturers, around 200 organizations built a smallsat between 2006 and 2015; the coming decade shows a similar pattern. Smallsat suppliers are entering the industry to capitalize on demand with flexible COTS equipment, bringing down costs and development times. Larger integrators focused on larger missions do not necessarily have the capacity to create these smaller, nominally lower-cost solutions at a profit or have the platforms available to support small mission development.

In the next decade, launch services are expected to generate $5.3 billion, a 76% increase over the previous decade. Small-lift vehicles in development will add further specialized supply. Prices from Firefly, Rocket Lab and Virgin Galactic are not expected to undercut existing supply prices. However, with smallsat operators impacted by the launch bottleneck and affected by delays in ridesharing and the like, despite the higher price per kg, the benefit of quicker and dedicated access to space could be quite attractive for operators. (7/7)

Stakeholders Meet to Talk Safety, more involving Spaceport Tucson (Source: Tucson News Now)
Sharing the skies safely was the topic of a meeting at Tucson International Airport as Spaceport Tucson nears completion just south of Tucson International Airport. A company called World View eventually wants to use balloons to take people into space. Construction on Spaceport Tucson is expected to be completed by the end of year. World View still needs federal permission to send people into the stratosphere from Tucson.

Down here on earth the Tucson Airport Authority wants to know more. That's why the TAA Board held a study session with the FAA, some commercial airlines, a private jet group, government and other local officials. "One of the reasons we wanted to be here is so that the tower can be in control of the airspace and make sure that there are separation services," said World View Chief Technology Officer Taber MacCallum. (7/7)

China Holds Space Military Exhibition (Source: Xinhua)
China's largest military space exhibition by scale and technological content opened in Chongqing Thursday. The exhibition was hosted by the office of China's Lunar Exploration Project, the Moon and Space Engineering Center of the State Administration of Science Technology and Industry for National Defence, and the Center of Space Exploration, Ministry of Education.

The exhibition covers an area of 100,000 square meters and has three sections including land, sea, air equipment; space; and aviation. Tang Yuhua, an official with the Moon and Space Engineering Center, said the exhibition is expected to attract more young Chinese to learn about China's achievements in aviation and space. (7/7)

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