September 20, 2016

Aerospace Workforce Group Needs Your Input (Source: SpaceTEC)
You participation will contribute valuable demographic information about your organization and your current role that helps characterize current conditions within the industries we support. Yours are opinions and judgments about the nation’s industries and the status of our certified technicians we can find nowhere else!  These allow us to identify trends, strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for improvement.

Please take a moment to select the survey most appropriate to you (or do all of them). Here are the surveys and their links: CertTEC 2016 Survey of Aviation/Aerospace Manufacturing/Service Industry Needs; CertTEC 2016 Certified Technician Survey; and SpaceTEC 2016 Certified Aerospace Technician Survey. Thanks! (9/20)

Scientists Know Climate Change is a Threat. Politicians Need to Realize It Too. (Source: Washington Post)
The climate is changing in dangerous ways, and we are responsible for most of these changes. This is not a matter of conjecture or political opinion — it is the conclusion of the overwhelming majority of climate scientists, based on solid evidence that mounts each year. Rising sea levels, extreme heat, increased incidence of floods and drought, ocean acidification and expansion of tropical diseases pose an unacceptable level of risk to our descendants. So do many other climate-related threats.

Efforts to reduce the risk to future generations are now being imperiled by a small yet vocal group that denies the validity of the evidence and of scientific expertise in general. Of special and immediate concern is the stated intent of the current Republican Party platform and presidential nominee Donald Trump to promote the extraction and use of the most carbon-intensive fossil fuels, to withdraw the United States from the Paris agreement and to rescind President Obama’s executive actions designed to reduce climate risk. (9/20)

Exploration Team Shoots for the Moon with Water-Propelled Satellite (Source: Space Daily)
Cislunar Explorers spacecraft separating from each other after each deployment. Image courtesy Cornell University. A satellite propelled by the Earth's most abundant natural resource? Yes, it's true. Cislunar Explorers, a team of Cornell University students guided by Mason Peck, a former senior official at NASA and associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, is attempting to boldly go where no CubeSat team has gone before: around the Moon.

Not only is Peck's group attempting to make a first-ever Moon orbit with a satellite no bigger than a cereal box, made entirely with off-the-shelf materials, it's doing so with propellant that you can obtain simply by turning on a faucet. "This has a very important goal, and that is to demonstrate that you can use water as a propellant," said Peck, who served as NASA's chief technologist in 2012-13. (9/19)

OSIRIS-REx Influences Space Video Game Builders at Orlando Event (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
The recent launch of a mission to land and retrieve material from an asteroid seems to have had an effect on local video game developers. At least that’s what an organizer of a weekend-long video game-building competition says after several teams built games focused on mining or exploring asteroids.

Overall, more than 120 people built a total of 17 games over the course of two days. Winners of the competition – a fruit asteroid miner called Otter Space and the space-based resource-gathering game Robonauts – received $2,000 in prizes.

“This event again built more bridges between the game development industry of Orlando (and) the space industry,” Patel said. “It created new relationships between the attendees and more opportunities for games to reach a commercial platform.” Patel has been part of a group of video game makers in Orlando who have been trying to foster a greater connection between the industry and the space industry, building connections to the community. (9/20)

Russian Crew Reduction to Have Limited Effect on ISS Operations (Source: Space News)
An anticipated decision by Russia’s space agency to temporarily reduce the size of its crew on the International Space Station should not have a major effect on NASA’s operations there, an agency official said. Roscosmos plans to reduce the Russian crew complement on the ISS from three to two, starting in March 2017.

A final decision and formal announcement was expected this week, prior to the Sep. 23 launch of a new crew on a Soyuz spacecraft. The reduction in crew is intended to save money until the launch of a Multipurpose Laboratory Module, a long-delayed Russian element of the ISS now scheduled for launch in late 2017. A two-person Russian crew would allow Roscosmos to cut one of four Progress cargo resupply missions to the ISS planned for 2017.

Gerstenmaier said that an agency analysis concluded the effects on ISS operations of Russia reducing its crew to be minimal. “I don’t think it will be a big impact to us overall,” he said. “But we’re working through all the details.” He noted that two cosmonauts are enough to perform maintenance on the Russian segment of the station, and it won’t affect most research on the station. “We can work it out fine,” he said. “The research plan is still pretty strong.” (9/19)

The Wizard War in Orbit (Source: Space Review)
In the conclusion to his series about the development of signals intelligence satellites by the US during the Cold War, Dwayne Day looks at one class of spacecraft that provided key data on Soviet activities for decades. Click here. (9/19)
The New Era of Heavy Lift (Source: Space Review)
Last week, Blue Origin unveiled its planned orbital launch vehicle, New Glenn, that likely will be able to place payloads weighing dozens of metric tons into low Earth orbit. Jeff Foust notes it's the latest development in heavy-lift vehicles that include programs by NASA and SpaceX. Click here. (9/19)
Launch Failures: Non-Launch Mishaps (Source: Space Review)
The pad accident that destroyed a Falcon 9 rocket early this month during preparations for a static fire test was rare, but not unprecedented. Wayne Eleazer examines some of the previous pad mishaps in the history of the Space Age. Click here. (9/19)
Commercial Crew: Two Years After Contracts, Two Years Until Flights (Source: Space Review)
Last week marked the second anniversary of NASA's award of commercial crew contracts to Boeing and SpaceX. Jeff Foust reports that, despite initial hopes that one or both vehicles would be ready by the end of 2017, delays until late 2018 are looking increasingly likely for both. Click here. (9/19)

The Sun Will Destroy Earth a Lot Sooner Than You Might Think (Source: Business Insider)
There are plenty of ways Earth could go. It could smash into another planet, be swallowed by a black hole, or get pummeled to death by asteroids. There's really no way to tell which doomsday scenario will be the cause of our planet's demise. But one thing is for sure — even if Earth spends the rest of its eons escaping alien attacks, dodging space rocks, and avoiding a nuclear apocalypse, there will come a day when our own sun will eventually destroy us.

This process won't be pretty, and the day might come sooner than we think. All good things eventually come to an end. And one day, about 4 billion or 5 billion years from now, the sun will burn through its last gasp of hydrogen and start burning helium instead. "Once hydrogen has stopped burning in the core of the sun, the star has formally left the main sequence and can be considered a red giant," Scudder said. "It will then spend about a billion years expanding and burning helium in its core, with a shell around it where hydrogen is still able to fuse into helium."

As the sun sheds its outer layers, its mass will decrease, loosening its gravitational hold on all of the planets. So all of the planets orbiting the sun will drift a little farther away. When the sun becomes a full-blown red giant, Scudder said, its core will get extremely hot and dense while its outer layer expands ... a lot. Its atmosphere will stretch out to Mars' current orbit, swallowing Mercury and Venus. Earth, on the other hand, has two options — either escape the expanding sun or be consumed by it. But even if our planet slips out of the sun's reach, the intense temperatures will burn it to a sad, dead crisp. (9/18)

NBC is Developing a Space Comedy From Scrubs Creator Bill Lawrence (Source: AV Club)
Bill Lawrence has more or less mastered the workplace sitcom, having created Scrubs and co-created Spin City. Now Deadline reports that Lawrence and Undateable creator Adam Sztykiel are taking on the biggest workplace of all: outer space. The duo’s next show is Spaced Out, a sitcom in development at NBC set in the near-future world of commercial space travel. So it’ll probably be either a futuristic Wings, or a funnier The Expanse. They’ll have competition, though, as Seth MacFarlane has also entered the sitcom space race with a new Fox dramedy series set aboard a spaceship. (9/20)

New Senate Bill Could Protect Mars Program Funding (Source: Inverse)
NASA’s biggest fear isn’t failure, an alien invasion, or a black hole swallowing the sun — it’s budget cuts. Fortunately for the world’s premier space agency, the U.S. Senate was watching its back this time. This week, the Senate Commerce Committee will adopt a bipartisan-backed $19.5 billion authorization package for NASA that would safeguard the Mars mission program from any budget changes the next president might seek to make.

The new bill seeks to prevent future cuts to projects directly related to NASAs goal to send astronauts to the red planet before 2040. This would almost certainly include money allocated towards the development and testing of NASA’s new heavy duty Space Launch System, the deep space Orion crew capsule, and any other long-term habitation technologies designed to help humans establish a permanent outpost on Mars. (9/19)

Israel's Space Startups Show Resiliency (Source: Geektime)
The Israeli space industry will survive the loss of the Amos-6 satellite in a SpaceX Falcon 9 pad explosion earlier this month, startups there say. Those startups, working on small satellite projects, argue there is more to the country's space efforts than Spacecom's fleet of large communications satellites. They argue, though, that the country has the capabilities to do more in space. (9/19)

India Plans Debris Tracking (Source: Times of India )
India's space agency plans to use an observatory to track space debris. ISRO says it is developing a one-meter telescope with instruments to track objects in orbit. The report did not disclose when the observatory would be ready, or how ISRO planned to use the data it collects. (9/19)

Brexit Wond Disrupt UK Space Efforts (Source: E&T)
The former head of Britain's space agency is playing down concerns about the effects of the UK's exit from the European Union on the country's space industry. In an interview, David Parker, now head of human spaceflight and robotic exploration at ESA, noted that ESA is a far larger player in space in Europe than the EU, and the UK's plan to withdraw from the EU won't affect its participation in ESA. Parker argued that, in fact, Brexit is an opportunity for the British space community to "increase its efforts and its presence in ESA." (9/19)

NASA Extending IRIS Solar Mission (Source: Lockheed Martin)
NASA is extending the operations of a solar science spacecraft. Lockheed Martin said Monday it received a $19 million contract to extend operations of the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph spacecraft through 2018. The extension will allow the spacecraft, launched in 2013, to continue its studies of the solar atmosphere and the formation of solar flares. (9/19)

Effort Planned to Etablish Commercial Spaceflight Standards (Source: ASTM)
A meeting next month will start the process of developing industry standards for commercial spaceflight. ASTM International is organizing the Oct. 24 meeting in Washington to discuss the potential creation of a committee that would help develop voluntary consensus standards for commercial human spaceflight. Such voluntary standards are an alternative to government-formulated standards, which federal law prevents the FAA from developing in the area of commercial human spaceflight until the 2020s. (9/19)

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