September 16, 2016

China Eyes Year-Long Stays for Space Station Astronauts (Source: Space Daily)
China could send astronauts to its space station for more than a year at a time once it goes operational in 2022, a senior project designer told state media. The country's second space lab, the Tiangong-2 - or Heavenly Palace-2 - blasted off Thursday night from the Gobi desert and is expected to operate for at least two years, the latest stage of the Asia's giant's ambitious space program. (9/15)

DOD Outlines Approach For Union Construction Contracts (Source: Law360)
The U.S. Department of Defense issued updated guidance Wednesday outlining how Pentagon agencies should handle project-specific collective bargaining agreements for major construction work and if the agencies should pursue such agreements at all, based on factors including geographic area and labor needs. (9/15)

Launch Pad Equipment Co. Doubles Down On Trade Secrets Claims (Source: Law360)
Advanced Fluid Systems Inc. told a Pennsylvania federal judge Wednesday that a former employee, the company he founded and a rival firm shouldn’t be able to dodge claims they worked together to steal AFS designs and subcontracts for hydraulic systems at a NASA's Wallops Flight Facility spaceport in Virginia. (9/15)

Orbital Debris Concerns Spark Policy Revisit (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Growing concerns about orbital debris are leading some in the federal government to consider revisiting existing policies. The growth of small satellite systems, including constellations of hundreds of satellites each, lead some to worry about increasing debris and collision risks, and conclude that existing policies to mitigate the growth of debris may not be sufficient. It isn't clear yet, though, what changes could be made to deal with debris concerns, and which agencies would take the lead. (9/15)

Bridenstine Developing More Space Legislation (Source: Space News)
A member of Congress is developing legislation to close a regulatory gap for "non-traditional" commercial space missions. The legislation by Rep. James Bridenstine (R-OK) would create an "enhanced payload review" led by the FAA for all commercial missions not otherwise licensed by other agencies.

The goal is to address concerns about which agency would have oversight of commercial efforts like satellite servicing and lunar landers in order to meet U.S. treaty obligations. The proposed legislation is unlikely to pass this year given the limited time remaining, he cautioned, and he may hold off on introducing it until next year. (9/15)

Italian-Made Vega Launches Satellites for Peru, Google Mapping (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
Europe’s solid-fueled Vega booster vaulted away from a launch pad in the South American jungle late Thursday and deftly delivered five sharp-eyed Earth observation satellites into two different orbits for the Peruvian government and a Google-owned mapping company. The satellites will help Peruvian authorities control the nation’s borders and combat drug trafficking, and refresh imagery of cities and landscapes for Google Maps.

The PeruSat 1 and four SkySat spacecraft started their journey with a flash as the Vega’s first stage P80 solid-fueled rocket motor ignited right on time at 0143:35 GMT Friday (9:43:35 p.m. EDT) Thursday. The rocket’s exhaust nozzle swiveled to steer the 98-foot-tall booster to the north from the Guiana Space Center, a sprawling facility managed by the French space agency — CNES — at the edge of the Amazon rainforest. (9/16)

Rocket Lab Nearly Clear for NZ Space Launch (Source: NZ Herald)
The country's first space rocket company is now almost clear to launch, with the Government today signing off on a contract authorizing Rocket Lab's activities from New Zealand. The Auckland-based company, founded by innovator Peter Beck, plans to begin to launch its Electron rockets from Mahia Peninsula later this year, in what will be the first commercial space launches from New Zealand.

The contract is an interim measure to allow the company to commence launching rockets before the bill establishing a regulatory regime comes into force. The Outer Space and High Altitude Activities Bill is expected to be introduced into Parliament later this month and the Government will be seeking to have it passed into law by mid next year. (9/16)

First-Ever Discovery: Complex Organic Molecules Found on Rosetta’s Comet (Source: Futurism)
Over the past few months, the ESA’s Rosetta orbiter has been feeding us valuable data on comets: where they come from, what they’re made of, how they work, and so on. But its time is nearly at an end, with a kamikaze dive towards the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko scheduled for later this month. But just before it dies, it has one more surprise up its sleeve.

The scientists behind Rosetta report that the probe has found complex, solid organic matter in the dust particles of the comet, the kind we’ve never expected to find. Previous missions could not collect these solid organic molecules, since these missions were merely flybys. Ultimately, they crafts moved too fast, disrupting the particles too much for a proper characterization.

But Rosetta has the ability to lower its speed so that such information can be gathered. By slowing down, it was able to collect 27,000 dust particles, enough for its COSIMA mass spectrometer to get a proper reading. What it found was nearly 200 particles of note, which are being studied to determine their organic structure. In a paper published in Nature, the scientists present seven representative particles, particularly two named Kenneth and Juliette. Click here. (9/14)

Diamandis: ‘We’re Gonna Be a Multi-Planetary Species’ (Source: Observer)
Engineer and entrepreneur Peter Diamandis grew up in the 1960s, and his life and career were shaped by two of the biggest space-related milestones of that decade: the debut of Star Trek in 1966 and the 1969 moon landing. “I was a fanatical Star Trek fan, and the moon landing was this epic journey that happened during my most formative years,” Diamandis told the Observer. “It was a one-two punch that really changed the course of my life.”

Diamandis began putting his passion for space into practice in college—while studying at MIT in 1980 (where, as Guthrie writes, he was “officially pre-med, but passionately pre-astronaut”) he co-founded the school’s first space club, Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), whose first adviser was legendary science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke. SEDS is now a 501(c)3 nonprofit with chapters in 10 countries.

After graduating, Diamandis co-founded the International Space University, a nonprofit institution for lunar studies, which is still active and based in France (the school’s current chancellor is Buzz Aldrin). “I think of myself as a parent of those organizations, and seeing them stand on their own is something I’m very proud of,” Diamandis said. (9/14)

NASA: Space Mining Absolutely Viable (Source:
While many still see space mining as science fiction, the development of a resources industry and manufacturing supply chain out off-Earth is both plausible and beneficial, according to former NASA researcher and current University of Central Florida professor Dr. Phil Metzger.

In an extensive proposal released earlier this month, the academic — whose work at NASA included developing Lunar and Martian architecture — says that the main challenge for mining near-Earth celestial bodies is neither technology nor cost, but simply “convincing people it is realistic.” Click here. (9/14)

Vega Launcher to Orbit Five Satellites on its Seventh Mission (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Arianespace is gearing up for the seventh launch of the Vega rocket in its series, which will place into orbit PerĂºSAT-1 and four SkySat satellites. The launcher is scheduled to lift off from the Vega Launch Complex (SLV) in Kourou, French Guiana, at 10:43 p.m. local time on Sept. 15 (9:43 p.m. EDT).

The mission, designated VV07, will carry a total payload of approximately 1.23 metric tons. The flight, lasting approximately one hour and 43 minutes, will result in the insertion of the satellites into an elliptical low-Earth orbit (LEO). The mission campaign started in June with the assembly of the Vega launcher. The teams were busy throughout the month to integrate all four stages of the rocket. After the assembly of the launch vehicle, the engineers conducted the synthesis control test. (9/14)

China Launches Tiangong-2 Space Lab to Orbit (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
On Thursday, Sept. 15, China successfully launched a Long March 2F rocket carrying the country’s second space lab – Tiangong-2 (meaning “Heavenly Palace” in Chinese). Liftoff took place at 10:04 p.m. local time (10:04 a.m. EDT) from Launch Area 4 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, located in China’s Gansu Province.

The launch, originally targeted for 2014, was delayed several times. More recently, the mission was set for Sept. 13; however, it was postponed one more time, most likely due to the Aug. 31, 2016, suspected launch failure of Long March 4C with the Gaofen-10 satellite. Finally, the liftoff was rescheduled to Sept. 15 with a launch window extending until Sept. 20. (9/15)

Colorado Space Business Roundtable Shows Value of Keeping Aerospace Business Local (Source: CSBR)
The Colorado Space Business Roundtable (CSBR) traveled more than 1,000 miles from Aug. 29 to Sept. 2 to four Colorado communities - Grand Junction, Naturita, Montrose and Durango – for its fourth annual Aerospace Business Development road trip. The trip showed how the Colorado aerospace industry benefits all communities across the state, highlighted opportunities for local businesses to become aerospace suppliers, and promoted STEM education.

"This year's road trip introduced CSBR and members like Lockheed Martin to great companies in Western Colorado that have the potential to expand their work in the aerospace industry," said Joe Rice, Director of Government Relations at Lockheed Martin (LMT). "This could create jobs in Western Colorado and provide products and services needed by aerospace companies across the nation."

CSBR's Aerospace Business Development road trips connect companies, suppliers, subcontractors and other stakeholders with a goal of furthering the industry across the state. Western Colorado has companies with the abilities to produce parts for planes, spacecraft, and satellites, so this road trip focused on how to take advantage of these capabilities. (9/14)

China to Share Space Development Benefits With All (Source: Global Times)
China will share the benefits of the development in its manned space program with all countries, especially developing countries, a space program official said Wednesday. China will also expand international cooperation on equipment research and development, space application, astronaut training, joint flight and aerospace medical care, said Wu Ping, deputy director of the manned space engineering office, at a press conference.

China has signed multiple cooperation agreements with countries such as Russia, Germany and France, and organizations including the European Space Agency (ESA) and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, according to Wu. "We have always insisted on conducting international exchanges and cooperation on the basis of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit and transparency, jointly promoting the progress and development of space technology," she said. (9/15)

Will SpaceX Pain Mean ULA Gain? (Source: Decatur Daily)
A massive explosion that destroyed a Falcon 9 rocket and its satellite payload this month during an engine test was a setback for SpaceX, the main rival to United Launch Alliance, but it is not clear if SpaceX’s misfortune will help ULA, according to experts. The Sep. 1 explosion on a Cape Canaveral launch pad engulfed one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets and destroyed a satellite that Facebook planned to use to bring internet access to Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

It was the second recent failure for the California-based aerospace company after another Falcon 9 disintegrated in flight last year on a mission to resupply the International Space Station. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has called the latest fireball “the most difficult and complex failure we have ever had in 14 years.” But experts said last week it is too soon to say whether ULA will be able to capitalize on SpaceX’s launch-pad failure. (9/15)

Commercial Space Success Hinges on Making a Profit (Source: Inverse)
Although companies like SpaceX, Boeing, and Blue Origin have been stringing together a series of successes over the last few years, the commercial space industry is perhaps not in the healthiest state — mainly because it’s not yet profitable.

“You have to be able to make a profit through space,” said Michael Griffin, chairman and CEO of the technology company Schafer Corporation. At a panel discussion about the free market space industry hosted by the AIAA’s annual Explore SPACE Forum on Tuesday, Griffin and other private spaceflight experts debated what the role of government should be in helping private companies take a bigger role in low Earth orbit (LEO) space operations.

NASA’s long-term goals include handing off LEO to the commercial sector so that it can focus on deep space missions like the journey to Mars. In order to speed this process up, the government has been actively partnering with the private industry to develop cheaper launch and spacecraft technology. But there’s disagreement as to whether or not the government is getting the most out of its investments. (9/14)

After Year in Space, Scott Kelly is Still Adjusting to Earth (Source: Inverse)
On Wednesday, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted that he received his last health scans in a series of tests to gauge the health effects from his year in space, as part of NASA’s goal to better understand how long-term space travel impacts the health of astronauts before launching the mission to Mars. One of the effects Kelly is still reeling from after 340 days aboard the International Space Station, besides loss of muscle mass and bone density, is a lesser-known phenomenon called fluid shift.

According to NASA, more than half of American astronauts develop changes in eye and vision structure after a long-duration space flight. These changes in ocular refraction (how the eye processes light) and cranial pressure are believed to be the result of fluid shifts. While short-term flights can also impact vision, fluid shift does not seem to be a factor. However, such suspicions had never been tested before the Kelly medical test.

In order to determine the impact of fluid shift on eye vision and structures, researchers used noninvasive techniques developed by NASA to determine arterial and venous flow parameters, ocular pressure and structure, and changes in intracranial pressure. (9/14)

Asteroids Will Be Rest Stops on Journey to Mars, Says NASA Chief (Source: Inverse)
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said Wednesday that the upcoming Asteroid Redirect Mission is “an important step for us on the journey to Mars.” As one of agency’s most ambitious projects ever conceived, the mission — ARM for short — will be “an opportunity for us to sit out on the proving ground” for getting human boots on the red planet, Bolden said. In many ways, it’s a test run for future Mars missions. But it’s a pretty exciting mission in its own right, too.

In brief, a robotic spacecraft will head to a nearby asteroid and, for the first time ever, use solar-electric propulsion to land on an asteroid’s surface. It will then scoop up a multi-ton boulder, go back into space, and use the new mass and gravitational influence to reroute the asteroid. Eventually — about ten years from now — astronauts will rendezvous with the spacecraft, take samples from the asteroid boulder, and return the samples to Earth for analysis. ARM will “give us a chance to do some of the things we expect we’ll need to do in the Mars environment,” Bolden said. (9/14)

Moon’s Pull and Tides Raise Odds of Powerful Earthquakes (Source:
Gravitational forces that create high tides during full and new moons may also intensify tremors to the point that they become big earthquakes, according to a new study. Ocean tides are caused primarily by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun on Earth. These same gravitational forces also strain geological faults, triggering both tremors and earthquakes, the researchers said. (9/14)

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