August 11, 2016

EG&G Settles with Govt in Titan Launch Site Cleanup Suit (Source: Law360)
A Florida federal judge on Monday approved a $331,566 settlement resolving a suit the U.S. Department of Justice brought against a defunct government contractor over decades-old contamination at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport launch site where Titan missiles were first launched. Judge Roy B. Dalton Jr. noted that defendant EG&G Florida Inc. admitted no liability in the matter but agreed to pay the sum to the government to resolve its alleged obligation under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. (8/10)

Cygnus and HTV Delays Give NASA Room to Schedule ISS Spacewalks (Source: CBS)
Delays in Cygnus and Japanese cargo flights to the ISS will allow NASA to reschedule a spacewalk. Astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins had already planned to perform a spacewalk Aug. 19 to attach a new docking system to the station. The Cygnus and HTV delays will now allow NASA to carry out a second spacewalk by Williams and Rubins on Sept. 1 to retract a radiator on the station's exterior. The timing of another spacewalk planned for October to replace batteries will depend on when the HTV spacecraft, carrying those batteries, is launched. (8/10)

Russia Could Shrink ISS Crew Involvement (Source: Tass)
Russia is considering scaling back its crew on the ISS. Sergei Krikalev, a former cosmonaut who is now director of human spaceflight for Roscosmos, told the newspaper Izvestia that Russia was proposing reducing its portion of the ISS crew from three people to two. That reduction, he said, would save money for Roscosmos and "boost the efficiency of the program," he said. The report didn't indicate when Russia would move ahead with that proposal. (8/11)

EchoStar Considers Investing in New Satellite Projects (Source: Space News)
EchoStar has $3 billion in cash that it plans to invest in one or more global satellite projects. Company executives said this week that those cash reserves, boosted by the sale of $1.5 billion in bonds, would be used to support unnamed satellite projects and for "pursuing other strategic opportunities." EchoStar's Hughes division provides a consumer broadband satellite service that is near capacity in some high-demand regions. (8/11)

Japanes and Israeli Companies Consider Mobile Broadband Constellation (Source: Space News)
Panasonic Avionics and Yahsat signed an agreement to study a future satellite constellation. The companies said the Aug. 10 memorandum of understanding covers an examination of a mobile satellite broadband constellation that could be developed in three to five years to serve the Middle East. Panasonic Avionics has become a major customer of several satellite operators as it develops a global system to provide satellite communications for aviation and maritime customers. (8/11)

NASA Aims For Supersonic Airliners As Quiet As Subsonic (Source: Aviation Week)
After minimizing sonic boom, reducing airport noise is seen as the next biggest barrier to commercially viable future supersonic transports. As it works toward flying an X-plane in 2019 to demonstrate low-boom design technology, NASA is conducting ground tests of an engine nozzle that could make a small supersonic airliner as quiet as current subsonic transports.

The model tests underway at NASA’s Glenn Research Center will validate design tools and concepts for an integrated propulsion system that would enable a quiet supersonic airliner with the seating capacity of a regional jet to have a cumulative noise level 10 EPNdB below current Chapter 4 limits. (8/9)

Neither Clinton Nor Trump Will Be Able to Fix the Pentagon’s Budget (Source: Defense One)
When the next president takes office in January, he or she will be staring down a 254-day deadline to either negotiate a budget deal with Congress or watch automatic cuts come to the military budget. “I think the [Budget Control Act] is probably the biggest challenge that the next administration faces, [and] not just for defense,” said Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Tuesday marked the fifth anniversary of the Budget Control Act, the 2011 deficit-reduction law that all but accidentally placed caps on the federal budget for a decade. Its restrictions last through fiscal 2021, encompassing almost the entire four-year term of the next president. The Pentagon has long argued it cannot operate effectively at these levels. Its current 2017 budget proposal, now under debate by Congress, calls for a total of $113 billion above the caps between 2018 and 2021. (8/2)

Kepler Communications Raises $5 Million for Internet of Things CubeSats (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Kepler Communications announces today it has raised $5 million in an oversubscribed seed round led by Manhattan-based IA Ventures – known for their investment in Digital Ocean and Other investors include Liquid 2 Ventures (Joe Montana’s investment vehicle), Techstars, Globalive Capital, BDC, and a number of high profile angel investors.

Kepler is building a network of “CubeSats” – satellites roughly the size of a loaf of bread – to relay real-time messages sent by machines, acting as a service provider for IoT devices (Internet of Things) both on the earth’s surface and in-orbit. “The vision is to empower businesses with real-time actionable information tomorrow where today this data is often hours delayed,” says Mina Mitry, founder and CEO of Kepler. (8/11)

NASA Climate Models Suggest Venus May Have Been Habitable (Source: GeekWire)
Today Venus is a hellish planet with a crushingly dense atmosphere of carbon dioxide, but billions of years ago, it could have had habitable surface temperatures and a watery ocean. That’s the conclusion drawn from a fresh round of climate modeling conducted by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. The computer modeling wound the clock back on Venus’ climate, using calculations similar to those employed to wind the clock forward for our own planet’s climate. (8/11)

Orbital Plunges Most in Almost a Year After Accounting Error (Source: Bloomberg)
Orbital ATK Inc. posted its sharpest drop in almost a year after the weapon and space-systems manufacturer delayed its second-quarter earnings filing to regulators because of previous accounting mistakes. A loss provision for a U.S. Army contract will reduce previously reported pretax operating income by $400 million to $450 million and “result in a net loss over its 10-year term,” Orbital said. It expects that restatements regarding the long-term, $2.3 billion contract to supply small-caliber ammunition to the military. (8/11)

NASA’s 3D Food Printer Will Make Pizza at Amusement Parks (Source: Motherboard)
Back in 2013, when NASA was still setting its sights on a human mission to Mars, a team of Texas researchers won a federal grant to build a 3D printer that could pump out customized food in space. The natural first choice for a demo? Pizza, of course.

But just after the first version was finished and a second grant was due to arrive, researcher Anjan Contractor and his team at the Systems and Materials Research Corporation in Austin, Texas, received the discouraging news that their second grant had been pulled. Congressional budget cuts forced the space agency to give up auxiliary projects aimed at a future Mars mission, including work on the 3D food printer.

So Contractor decided to reformat the idea into a more earthly enterprise and start a company, BeeHex. Setting his aim at hungry sports fans and theme park visitors, BeeHex’s goal is to make customized, on-demand 3D printed pizzas at concerts and arenas. Customers would order the pizza through an app, pay remotely and pick up the meal once it’s finished. (8/10)

Is Space Tourism an Extravagant Idea? (Source: Gulf News)
Space tourism is actually not new. Seven customers have already gone to space, between 2001 and 2009. They were taken to the International Space Station by the Russian space agency. They each paid $20 million to $40 million to spend a week or so there, doing whatever they wanted to do. But now the price has dropped considerably: Virgin Galactic’s ticket now goes for “only” $250,000 per person — raised from $200,000 initially — and 700 people have already paid deposits to book a seat!

A trip onboard Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo aircraft will only take people on a “sub-orbital flight”, taking them up to an altitude of 100-160km and bringing them back in a few hours. During that trip, the space tourists will get a few minutes of weightlessness and great views of Earth below and the cosmos beyond ...

This may seem extravagant, but there is in fact quite a bit of enthusiasm among the general public for the idea. A recent survey found that 70 per cent of respondents supporting the idea and dreaming to get the chance, are indeed asking for a greater and more amazing experience by adding space walks, in particular, to the itinerary. (8/10)

It Takes a Muddle To Build Spaceport Camden (Source: Spaceport Facts)
The Brunswick News reported that Camden County government will “reimburse itself by issuing a $5 million Bond” for the costs of Spaceport Camden. Since a Bond is debt that is essentially a mortgage against the taxpayers of Camden, it is hard to see how this is a reimbursement in the common sense of the word. The story is further muddled by Mike Fender, the county’s finance director, who states that by paying the debt back over 20 years, “It’s just not going to cost the county as much.”

In the County’s telling, it will not cost as much (as what other means?) to reimburse itself by borrowing money and paying interest. The concept of borrowing money to reimburse itself is actually a strong indication that the County cannot afford even the $5 million dollars to pay for the Environmental Impact Study and the proposed site. After raising property taxes this year and next they still have to get the money they’ve already spent back into an already stressed budget.

Actually, Camden is already committed to more than $5 million, having spent more than $2.4 million with $3.8 million remaining if the FAA issues the spaceport license. Then they have to build a spaceport for a hundred million or more. The County Resolution authorizes the $5 million bond even if the spaceport project is “abandoned.” In that case, the County will be in debt with nothing to show for it except a piece of land that was on the tax digest for $780,000 before the County offered to pay $4.8 million for it. Click here. (8/10)
DiBello: Florida's Space Frontier (Source: MyFlorida CFO)
In 1989, the State of Florida created the Florida Space Authority, then the nation’s first state space authority. With that act, Florida staked a claim to leadership in this nation’s future in space. And even though other states have tried to emulate what Florida did, under the latest evolution of that authority, Space Florida, the state’s national leadership in space has been solidified in the global marketplace.

Today, Florida can boast of being the home of the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, the busiest and most successful spaceport on the planet! And, every active launch pad at the Cape either has significant state investment arranged by the authority or is owned outright by Space Florida, enabled primarily by harnessing the power of private sector financing. Click here. (8/10)

Orbital ATK Shifts Antares Return-To-Flight to September at Virginia Spaceport (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Upon the completion of a stage test conducted at Pad-0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport this past May, Dulles, Virginia-based Orbital ATK has announced that it could conduct the inaugural flight of its Antares 230 rocket as early as the second half of September of this year (2016).

According to a release issued by Orbital ATK and re-posted by NASA: “Orbital ATK is currently working with NASA to target a window in the second half of September for the launch of the OA-5 mission. A more specific launch date will be identified in the coming weeks.”

Meanwhile Orbital ATK also has been working on checking out the launch vehicle to ensure it is ready to support the mission. NASA has stringent safety requirements of any vehicle visiting the International Space Station and the OA-5 Cygnus that Antares is tasked with sending aloft – must also be reviewed before being given the green light to travel to and be berthed with the ISS. (8/10)

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