August 30, 2016

This 1950s Jet Will Launch Tiny Satellites From the Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: BBC)
If you asked an eight-year-old to design a jet fighter, the end result might resemble the Lockheed F-104. The F-104 looks less like a plane and more like a rocket with some extra bits added as an afterthought. Its long thin fuselage – with a tiny cockpit perched behind its pointy nose and short stubby wings either side – make it look state-of-the-art even today; one can only imagine how revolutionary it seemed when it was unveiled in the 1950s.

Most air forces phased out their Starfighters by the mid-80s, replacing them with aircraft more suited to the roles the supersonic jet had struggled to fill. But the F-104 soldiered on in a non-combat role elsewhere. Cubecab plans to launch very small satellites – known as cubesats – using a rocket that weighs a similar amount. It’s much smaller, and therefore cheaper, than any other launch  method currently available. How will CubeCab launch these tiny satellites? Simple – they’ll use Starfighters.

Cubecab will strap its lightweight rockets, weighing around 10kg, on to the kind of underwing ‘pylons’ usually used to fire missiles. And Starfighters Inc, a Florida-based company which still flies a handful of F-104s, will take their pint-sized payloads up to the edge of the stratosphere and fire them into orbit. Click here. (8/29)

“Mister President, Their Rocket Blew Up.” (Source: Space Review)
Even after the US won the race to the Moon, American intelligence monitored Soviet development of the N-1, and reported on it to President Nixon. Dwayne Day discusses what Nixon learned about the N-1 based on recently declassified intelligence briefings. Click here. (8/29)
A Changing of the Guard at Spaceport America (Source: Space Review)
Christine Anderson originally signed on to run New Mexico’s Spaceport America for a year; she stepped down earlier this month after five and a half years on the job. Jeff Foust examines the state of the spaceport, including efforts she led to diversify the spaceport’s customer base. Click here. (8/29)
Rethinking Image Release Policies in the Age of Instant Gratification (Source: Space Review)
While some planetary missions readily share the images they take with the public, others are more reticent to do so. Svetoslav Alexandrov argues that, in an era of instant access to information, all missions should be more open in releasing images. Click here. (8/29)
Interplanetary “Litter” on the Space Trail: University of New Mexico’s Meteorite Museum (Source: Space Review)
A small museum in Albuquerque contains a collection of meteorites, including some from Mars. Joseph Page provides an overview of the museum and its exhibits. Click here. (8/29)

Hand-Off of Space-Flown Football Launches Pre-Super Bowl Tour in Houston (Source: CollectSpace)
A football flown for five months aboard the International Space Station has now become a symbol of the next Super Bowl to be played in Houston. Astronaut Scott Kelly, who returned from a record 340-day expedition on the orbiting outpost earlier this year, handed off the flown football at Space Center Houston on Saturday (Aug. 27). (8/29)

Moon Express Co-Founder: Successful Entrepreneurs Must Have a God-Complex (Source: Economic Times)
In Naveen Jain's vision, the moon in 'honeymoon' might be a real possibility for some jetsetters one day. "I reckon that in 10-15 years, people will be travelling to the moon," he says in a telephone conversation from the US on August 11.

The 56-year-old American is the co-founder of Moon Express, a space company that he established with Bob Richards (a space entrepreneur) and Barney Pell (a former NASA scientist) in 2010. In early August, Moon Express announced it had become the first private enterprise to receive regulatory approval from the US government to send a robotic lander to the moon in 2017. The company is also one of the 16 teams competing for the Google Lunar X Prize, which will award $20 million to the first venture to get to the moon. Click here. (8/29)

Spacecraft Manufacturers Express Confidence in Spacebelt (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
On Wednesday, Aug. 17, Cloud Constellation announced that it had gained Letters of Confidence from four major spacecraft manufacturers in its SpaceBelt satellite constellation. As the name of the documents imply, these letters express faith in the company’s design.

At present, Cloud Constellation is working to close the second round of funding. It is hoped that these endorsements will help the firm develop an orbital “Information Ultra-Highway”. The first phase of funding was completed this past March (2016).

The company hopes to file a secure network of satellites that will provide a global, interconnected orbital database. This ring could potentially provide these services anywhere across the globe. SpaceFlight Insider spoke with representatives of the company in an exclusive interview conducted on Wednesday, Aug. 24. (8/29)

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