August 14, 2016

SpaceX Launches Japanese Satellite, Lands Rocket on DroneShip (Source:
SpaceX has done it again. The private spaceflight company landed its Falcon 9 rocket for the sixth time in the last eight months early Sunday morning, pulling off the feat during the successful launch of the JCSAT-16 commercial communications satellite. The two-stage Falcon 9 lifted off from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport at 1:26 a.m. EDT, carrying JCSAT-16 toward a distant geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO). Less than 9 minutes later, the rocket's first stage came back for a pinpoint landing on the deck of a robotic ship called Of Course I Still Love You, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean a few hundred miles off the Florida coast. (8/14)

SpaceX's Crowded Manifest (Source: Space News)
Sunday's launch was the eighth of the year for SpaceX, which is confronting a list of at least nine missions whose owners in recent weeks have confirmed that they expect their launches to occur by December. SpaceX officials said early this year they hoped to conduct 18 launches in 2016 from both Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, which is used for missions to high-inclination low-Earth orbit.

The 2016 manifest assumes that London-based Inmarsat moves its Inmarsat-5 F4 to an International Launch Services Proton rocket to assure a 2016 launch. But Proton, like SpaceX, has faced delays in recent months and its next launch is now set for October. How many missions it can fit in before the end of the year is unclear. Some customers are more worried than others about any further delays at SpaceX because of business issues including current in-orbit capacity, customer in-service expectations or regulatory deadlines.

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said Aug. 9 in a presentation to the Small Sat 2016 conference that Falcon Heavy, originally scheduled for launch in 2013, was proving to be “actually a harder problem than we thought.” After apologizing to customers for the delays, Shotwell said: “I’m president: There’s three [Falcon 9 first stage] rockets. You glue them together. How hard is that? Well, according to my team, it’s really hard.” She did not specify an inaugural-flight date. (8/14)

SpaceX Antennas at Texas Spaceport Will Track Crewed Dragon Missions Launched From Florida (Source: Valley Morning Star)
SpaceX plans to install two massive ground station antennas at Boca Chica beach for the purpose of tracking manned space flights, though not flights from Boca Chica, at least not yet. The 86-ton antennas will be used to track flights of the crewed version of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft from Cape Canaveral to the International Space Station, probably in 2017. SpaceX acquired the antennas from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. (8/13)

Did LIGO's Black Holes Come From the Dawn of Time? (Source:
As momentous as the LIGO gravity wave discovery was, a puzzle quickly presented itself. Generally, the most common black holes found in the modern universe come in two broad categories: stellar mass black holes and supermassive black holes. Stellar mass black holes are, you guessed it, formed after a massive star explodes as a supernova. Supermassive black holes, which "weigh in" at millions to billions of solar masses, are the monsters that live in the centers of galaxies.

The two black holes that generated GW150914 were too big and can't be explained as being two stellar mass black holes colliding and merging as one. So what kind of black holes were they? Two new studies have concluded that they may have been formed when the universe was very young. In other words, LIGO could have been witness to the smashup of two primordial black holes -- the most ancient kind of black holes. What's more, future detections of similar collisions could provide tantalizing clues as to whether primordial black holes make up the majority (if not all) of the universe's missing mass. (8/14)

Director: New Mexico Spaceport Positioned for Next Frontier (Source: Federal News Radio)
At what was once a remote desert outpost with spotty cell service and little infrastructure other than the shell of a quarter-billion-dollar futuristic hangar, Christine Anderson has watched the transformation of Spaceport America from her office window. The hangar sits just to the south, its patina metal paneling and glass walls rising from the valley floor. It’s Anderson’s favorite view.

Even though commercial flights at Spaceport America have yet to begin, Anderson — executive director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority — says her job is done as the spaceport stands ready for anchor tenant Virgin Galactic and other companies working in the industry. Anderson announced her resignation this summer. Her last day is next week, and the search is underway for her successor.

Some state legislators called for pulling the plug, adding fuel to criticisms that the project — first initiated by former Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, and British billionaire Richard Branson — was a boondoggle. Anderson was grilled at legislative hearings. She held fast to the idea that the spaceport would be a game changer for New Mexico. “There are naysayers,” she said. “I think you just have to maintain the high road with all of that because it’s an important project, and with any new thing — this whole spaceport business is new — you just have to have patience.” (8/13)

Departing CEO Says Spaceport Doing Fine (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
As I move on after five and a half years on this tremendously important project, I am reflecting on our past accomplishments and our future at Spaceport America.

I am very proud of the fact that we built a small city in the middle of nowhere, helped to shape the future of the commercial space industry, inspired thousands of young people to consider a career in engineering, science or math, commercialized a brand which has brought the State of New Mexico over $104 million in positive Earned Media in the past year – that means positive media exposure that we did not have to pay for – and are attracting and signing many new customers, resulting in increased economic development in New Mexico.

This year, we are covering 75 percent of our operational budget through revenue and, next year, we project that we will be covering 90 percent. This means we have almost reached our goal of being self-sustaining. (8/14)

Astronaut Scholarship Foundation to Honor 35th Anniversary of First Shuttle Missions (Source: America Space)
“While we look forward to space flight coming up in the future, we are conscious of space flight history because we administrate the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame program,” Ms. Getty told AmericaSpace, via email. “Most recently the 40th anniversary of Apollo 13 was celebrated, so anniversary events with astronauts that participate with ASF is an easy connection to make. Crippen is a large ASF supporter, and we’d worked with Engle and Truly on various projects. Often with the astronauts it’s about the connections we have or can make through participants.” (8/14)

'Ready Jet Go!' Blasts Off Into Space (Source:
The adventurous space explorer Jet Propulsion and his Earthling friends head into outer space to learn about Jupiter and Pluto in new episodes of the animated series "Ready Jet Go!" airing this week (Aug. 15-19). The educational show premiered in February 2016 on PBS, and it follows Jet Propulsion and his family, who are natives of the fictional planet Bortron 7. Their car transforms into a rocket ship to take Jet, his pet named Sunspot, and his friends Sean and Sydney into space to learn about the solar system. (8/14)

Your Ticket to Space Awaits at the KSC Visitor Complex (Source: RocketSTEM)
If you’ve never been to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and you are reading this article, well you owe it to yourself to make that trip at some point. If you have been there before, but not in a few years, I’d suggest that it’s time for a return trip. The complex has undergone numerous changes and updates, not to mention the addition of the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit. The entire facility is top notch and offers you the opportunity to see and learn about actual spacecraft, rockets, spacesuits, and many more interesting artifacts. Click here. (8/13)

Air Force Museum Brings History of Rocketry to Life (Source: RocketSTEM)
The Air Force Space & Missile Museum and separate History Center, both located in Cape Canaveral, Florida, provide a unique look back at past space adventures, hardware, and facilities. You’ll find the entrance to the History Center just outside the main entrance of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The History Center, located just off the parking lot provides visitors with information regarding each of the cape’s pads, both retired and active, including what type of vehicles launched from them, what missions, and other fun facts about each complex. Admission to the History Center is free. Click here. (8/13)

Life on a Moon? Exploring Europa (Source: RocketSTEM)
On a clear night, you can see planet Jupiter with the nothing more than your eyes, as it shines steady and bright against the background of glittering stars. If you take a closer look through a telescope, you can see tiny specks surrounding it. What if I told you that there may be life on one of these specks?

NASA is about to embark on a mission to explore yet another unexplained part of the solar system. This search is spurred by the existence of a massive, ice-covered, water world type moon, which could very possibly be the home of a plethora of extraterrestrial aquatic life. This intriguing moon, filled with so much possibility, belongs to Jupiter and it’s name is Europa. Click here. (8/13)

Audi Lunar Quattro Rover Survives Desert Test in Quatar (Source: SpaceWatch)
The purpose of the test was to understand and to verify different sites here in the desert for their soil composition to find areas where we could do analog mission tests in the future. An analog test for us is a location with specific characteristics that really assembles the mission requirement we will encounter doing a certain phase of the mission. That spot should be as far away from civilization that you really can test everything undisturbed.

Usually you just test specific things, like traction of the wheels or the different soil compositions. But we are looking for a site for a full analog mission test very soon, where we test in an unknown area without reference points for the operator and having the operator far away. So we can test the entire chain of communication, information exchange, rover behaviour and more. So that this test will be successful, meaning as harsh as possible, we have to understand the capabilities of the desert in the region, and now specific to Qatar. But we learned a lot of interesting things from our current test mission. (8/12)

The Necessity of Coherent Space Policy in the Shadow of the Iranian Resurgence (Source: SpaceWatch)
Are Middle East governments ready to counter a resurgent Iran in space? American space law expert and policy consultant, Michael J. Listner, makes the case for more countries in the region to develop comprehensive national space policies so that their defence establishments can adequately prepare defensive measures in the space domain. Click here. (8/12)

Recommendations for Reshaping Space Policy (Source: UT Dallas)
The summer edition of Issues in Science and Technology focuses on the changing landscape of space policy. Dr. Bhavya Lal, a researcher at the Science and Technology Policy Institute, explores how more countries and private companies are becoming active in space. Lal contends that the U.S. government must reshape its space agencies and policies if it wants to keep up. She writes that cooperation and synergistic partnerships among commercial and governmental entities will be key to this effort. Click here. (8/14)

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz Tours SpaceX Rocket Test Facility (Source: KWTX)
Cruz’s office issued a press release after the tour Friday that quoted Cruz as saying “it is encouraging to see how the commercial space industry is revolutionizing the future of space exploration... One of the great benefits of commercial space exploration has been the jobs and economic development that have flowed from allowing innovation and the private sector to play a critical role in space, and Texas has been at the epicenter of those advancements,” he said.

“I am an enthusiastic advocate of competition and allowing the private sector to innovate, and I will continue to work closely with the commercial space industry to ensure that companies like SpaceX have the freedom to thrive.” (8/12)

Shareholder Class Action Filed Against Orbital ATK (Source: Yahoo! Finance)
The law firm of Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check announces that a shareholder class action lawsuit has been filed against Orbital ATK on behalf of purchasers of the Company's securities between June 1, 2015 and August 9, 2016. Investors who purchased Orbital securities during the Class Period may, no later than October 11, 2016, petition the Court to be appointed as a lead plaintiff representative of the class.

On August 10, 2016, Orbital reported that it would delay the filing of its quarterly financial statements "due to an ongoing review of accounting matters…."  Additionally, the Company disclosed that it expected to restate its fiscal 2015 and subsequently filed financial statements to correct "misstatements" relating to the Contract, which resulted in an overstatement of revenues and operating income in those previously issued financial statements.

Following this news, shares of the Company's stock declined $17.98, or over 20 percent, to close on August 10, 2016 at $70.79 per share, on unusually heavy trading volume. The complaint alleges that the defendants made a series of false and misleading statements and/or failed to disclose relevant information to investors. (8/12)

New, Nearby Earth-Like Planet Discovered (Source: Seeker)
Scientists are preparing to unveil a new planet in our galactic neighborhood which is "believed to be Earth-like" and orbits its star at a distance that could favor life, German weekly Der Spiegel reported Friday. The exoplanet orbits a well-investigated star called Proxima Centauri, part of the Alpha Centauri star system, the magazine said, quoting anonymous sources.

"The still nameless planet is believed to be Earth-like and orbits at a distance to Proxima Centauri that could allow it to have liquid water on its surface -- an important requirement for the emergence of life," said the magazine. "Never before have scientists discovered a second Earth that is so close by," it said, adding that the European Southern Observatory (ESO) will announce the finding at the end of August. (8/12)

Antrix-Devas Deal: Former ISRO Chief Nair Named as Accused (Source: Deccan Chronicle)
The Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday filed a chargesheet in the Antrix-Devas deal case naming former Isro chairman G. Madhavan Nair and senior officials who had been accused of facilitating the “wrongful” gain of Rs 578 crore to private multi-media company Devas, by Antrix, the commercial arm of Isro.

Others named in the chargesheet include the then executive director of Antrix K.R. Sridhar Murthy, former managing director of Forge Advisors and Devas CEO Ramachandra Vishwanathan, and the then director of Devas, M.G. Chandrasekhar. The chargesheet comes a month after India lost its arbitration case in an international tribunal over Antrix scrapping a deal with Devas and is now liable to pay compensation which could run into millions of dollars. (8/12)

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