October 1, 2016

ULA Subsidiary Wins $861 Million DOD Launch Contract (Source: Reuters)
United Launch Services, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co , has been awarded an $861 million modification to a previously awarded contract for Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle launch capability for the Delta IV and Atlas V rockets, the Pentagon said on Friday. The contract includes launch capability, mission integration, base and range support, maintenance commodities, Delta depreciation, and Atlas depreciation. (9/30)

Air Force Awards Over $100 Million for Spaceport Support in Florida (Source: SPACErePORT)
InDyne Inc. has won a $71.5 million Air Force contract for operation and maintenance of the facilities, systems, equipment, utilities and infrastructure in support of the 45th Space Wing and its mission partners at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. Also, Space Coast Launch Services LLC has won $23.1 million for operations, maintenance and engineering support to critical launch, spacecraft and ordnance facilities.

Earlier last month, Range Generation Next LLC won a $95 million Air Force contract for Launch and Test Range System (LTRS) integrated support contract operations, maintenance, and sustainment at the Eastern Range (based at Florida's spaceport) and the Western Range at Vandenberg Air Force Base. (9/30)

This Startup Wants To Help You Save Up For Your Ticket To Mars (Source: Forbes)
In 2001, millionaire Dennis Tito became the first person to pay for a ticket to fly into space – the low, low price of $20 million. Right now, there are a number of different companies looking to give people the opportunity to fly into space for even less money, with ticket prices ranging from $75,000 to $250,000. Elon Musk is even trying to get the cost of a ticket to Mars down to about $200,000.

But even with the cost of the trip to space being significantly less expensive than Dennis Tito’s, that’s still far too expensive for most people. That’s where a new financial startup, SpaceVault, comes in. They’ve created a financial instrument that let’s you save up for that trip to Mars – and it invests in commercial space programs while you wait.

The company’s philosophy is to get “everyone who might not be able to afford $140,000 to have the chance to get to space, too,” said Jason Aspiotis, founder and CEO of SpaceVault. To that end, the company is offering a $10,000 certificate of deposit, which will be managed by a partner bank and will mature at the end of 40 years. (9/30)

Mars Explorers Must Be Able to Tolerate Boredom and Play Nice with Others (Source: Five Thirty Eight)
The physical requirements for space travel are fairly straightforward — general stamina and good health — but the psychological requirements are every bit as important and have become a bigger focus as the space program aims to send people on longer missions that venture much further from Earth. The process of selecting NASA’s space travelers has evolved since the space program began in the 1950s.

First and foremost, NASA selects the people it will send into space based on their competency at specific jobs. “It is a mission, and there’s work that needs to be done,” said Pete Roma. “Technical competence is critical,” he said. “If you trust the people you’re working with to do their jobs and you respect their skills, that helps the crew sustain their performance for the long term.” Other important traits, Roma said, include conscientiousness, attention to detail, a strong work ethic, agreeableness, an openness to other people and an ability to handle disagreements.

A mission to Mars would last at least two-and-a-half years, and a classic “Type A” fighter pilot type might not have the personality to handle isolation well or cooperate with others in a very small group, Roma said. In fact, long-haul astronauts may handle missions better if they’re introverted, he said.2 Some people feel energized by spending time alone as well as working with others, and those are ideal candidates, he said. Click here. (9/30)

How Would Sex Work in Space? (Source: The Verge)
Becoming an “interplanetary species” means creating a self-sustaining civilization on Mars, which means living and dying on Mars — which at some point might mean sex and pregnancy on Mars. So how would that work? We don’t have any data on how human bodies will work on Mars specifically, but we have enough information to know that sex in space could be a real hassle.

No one has had sex in space yet (as far as we know), though there are astronauts married to each other. Mark Lee and Jan Davis were secretly married before they went into space in the early 90s. (Technically, NASA forbids married couples to go together, mostly because they think it might negatively affect the team dynamic.)

But for those who want to try, be warned that intimate relations without gravity will be physically complicated. Space-sickness is possible, and that’s definitely not romantic. Microgravity makes it very hard to hold onto each other; you’d keep floating away unless you held onto each other or somehow anchored yourself. It can also create blood-flow problems that make it difficult to get and sustain an erection. Click here. (9/30)

7 Places In Space Most Likely To Have Alien Life (Source: Daily Caller)
To get an idea of the chances of NASA finding little green men or microbes, The Daily Caller News Foundation sat down with Dr. Penelope Boston, director of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute, and Dr. Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Click here. (10/1)

Hawaii Aerospace Summit will be held during Aerospace in Hawaii Week (Source: ETN)
The Hawaii Aerospace Summit will be held during Aerospace in Hawaii Week – part of World Space Week being celebrated in over seventy countries during the first week in October.

Representatives from Hawaii’s government, education, and business sectors, along with delegates from aerospace agencies and corporations nationwide, will discuss strategic opportunities to leverage our State’s Moon/Mars-like terrain, near-equatorial/mid-Pacific location, resident scientific and engineering expertise, and multinational ties with space-faring nations throughout the Asia-Pacific region, to help expand and diversify Hawaii’s economy, as well as enhance our State’s leadership role in the global aerospace industry. (10/1)

Implication of Sabotage Adds Intrigue to SpaceX Investigation (Source: Washington Post)
The long-running feud between Elon Musk’s space company and its fierce competitor ULA took a bizarre twist this month when a SpaceX employee visited its facilities at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport and asked for access to the roof of one of ULA’s buildings.

About two weeks earlier, one of SpaceX’s rockets blew up on a launchpad while it was awaiting an engine test. As part of the investigation, SpaceX officials had come across something suspicious they wanted to check out, according to three industry officials with knowledge of the episode. SpaceX had still images from video that appeared to show an odd shadow, then a white spot on the roof of a nearby building belonging to ULA.

The building, which had been used to refurbish rocket motors known as the SMARF, is just more than a mile away from the launchpad and has a clear line of sight to it. A representative from ULA ultimately denied the SpaceX employee access to the roof and instead called Air Force investigators, who inspected the roof and didn’t find anything connecting it to the rocket explosion, the officials said. (9/30)

Spaceport America to Hold Open House (Source: KRQE)
If you’re looking for a break from balloons this weekend, Spaceport America is holding an open house Saturday. Visitors will get to explore the facilities and chat with crews of Virgin Galactic and other spaceport customers. The event is free, but you might want to register online ahead of time since admission is first-come-first-serve. (9/30)

Firefly Space Systems Burns Out? (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Firefly Space Systems was founded in 2014 by Tom Markusic P.J. King and Michael Blum. They have been developing the Firefly Alpha rocket which uses an aerospike engine cluster to deliver 400 kg payloads to LEO. They have been under legal pressure from Virgin Galactic regarding allegedly stolen intellectual property for aerospike engine designs.

The legal battle took a turn in Virgin Galactic’s favor earlier this month when the arbitrator in the case made a terminating sanctions ruling determining that Markusic did take Virgin Galactic trade secrets, destroyed evidence, impeded the arbitration process, and transferred Virgin Galactic confidential information to Firefly computers. This ruling makes any further legal action by Virgin Galactic much simpler as they no longer have to prove Markusic took their confidential information.

Things appeared to be going well at Firefly before this ruling, with a high volume of new hiring going on, a $5.5 million Venture class launch services contract with NASA, test firings of their engine, and a successful raise of $19 million in funding. But anonymous sources at Firefly now have told Spaceflight Insider that the company is out of money. (9/30)

Trump's Space Policy Is a Black Hole (Source: Inverse)
The Republican nominee’s answer to the space question was just one paragraph long very, very light on specifics. Space is not a high priority on this man’s to-do list. Trump’s thoughts on space are better distilled from his comments on the campaign trail, where he has expressed a desire to decrease NASA’s budget and provide a great deal of support for the fledgling private spaceflight industry. That industry is growing, but betting on it is still a gamble. A lack of oversight and a culture of risk-taking are among the more obvious potential hazards.

Congress doesn’t seem to want to take chances of a Trump presidency screwing around with a good thing — especially with the Mars mission now front and center as NASA’s main focus. Without naming Trump, Congress passed an authorization bill with bipartisan support which would basically make it much more difficult for future presidencies to gut funding for the Journey to Mars. (9/30)

JSC, Other NASA Centers May One Day Sink Into the Sea (Source: Houston Chronicle)
For years, NASA has warned of Earth's rising sea levels due to melting polar ice. The encroaching coast is a danger to millions around the world, and, as it turns out, NASA, too. According to NASA's Earth Observatory, between half and two-thirds of the space agency's infrastructure stands within 16 feet of sea level.

For Houston, home of Johnson Space Center, the issue of rising sea level is particularly bad. Experts say the center for human spaceflight training and operations sees sea level rising at a rate of nearly 2.5 inches per decade, "significantly" more than any other NASA center. (9/30)

Questions Arise On Implications Of SpaceX Pad Explosion (Source: Aviation Week)
As SpaceX begins investigating the causes of the Sep. 1 accident that destroyed a Falcon 9 and its payload, questions are mounting over the near- and far-term implications of the failure for the launch company, its commercial customers, NASA and the Air Force.

Even before the explosion, which fortunately occurred without any injuries at Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral, SpaceX was already facing a tight schedule to meet its planned target of 18 launches for the year. Click here. (9/30)

Hyten Sees Role For Reusable Rockets In Preventing Space Pearl Harbor (Source: Defense Daily)
The outgoing chief of Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) sees a role for reusable rockets in preventing what he calls a Space Pearl Harbor, or a disabling attack against the United States in space.

“Wherever the commercial market goes, we need to be a partner,” Air Force Gen. John Hyten said. “If the commercial market flourishes in any area, we have to be right in line, we can’t be separate from wherever the commercial market takes us. We like to think that sometimes we can be separate from that structure, but that’s the industry, we have to be tied to industry.”

Charles Miller, president of NexGen Space LLC, has touted rapidly reusable launch vehicles as a solution to the Space Pearl Harbor dilemma. Miller said Friday a rapidly reusable launch vehicle, which he calls his Ultra Low Cost Access To Space (ULCATS) solution, could serve both as a deterrent and in a practical sense by quickly launching new satellites if a U.S. spacecraft is destroyed. (9/30)

Carbon Fiber Composite Gives Strength To SpaceX Mars Plans (Source: Forbes)
Most of SpaceX's Mars ship and the fuel tanks containing extremely cold liquid chemical fuel are made from a composite material comprising mostly of an advanced carbon fiber material. With its high tensile strength and increased flexibility combined with its low density, it is already being used for aircraft cladding to reduce weight and cost, and could now feature prominently in spacecraft too. The strength of carbon fiber is required to withstand the high pressures that the tank could be subjected to. (9/30)

Glass Bits, Charcoal Hint at 56-Million-Year-Old Space Rock Impact (Source: Science News)
A period of skyrocketing global temperatures started with a bang, new research suggests. Impact debris and evidence of widespread wildfires around eastern North America suggest that a large space rock whacked Earth around 56 million years ago at the beginning of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, also known as the PETM, a period of rapid warming and huge increases in carbon dioxide.

The event is one of the closest historic analogs to modern global warming and is used to improve predictions of how Earth’s climate and ecosystems will fare in the coming decades. Too little is known about the newfound impact to guess its origin, size or effect on the global climate. (9/28)

Earliest SpaceX Return to Flight Could Be Nov. 17 (Source: Florida Today)
SpaceX has circled Nov. 17 as a tentative date for its next launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida, on a mission that would launch International Space Station supplies from Kennedy Space Center. The Air Force’s 45th Space Wing last week approved the date for planning purposes, Space Florida officials said Wednesday during a board meeting in Orlando. “We’re happy to see them continue to move towards the goal of getting back into spaceflight,” said Jim Kuzma, Space Florida’s operations chief. (9/29)

Rosetta Belly Flops Onto Comet (Source: New York Times)
Rosetta, the first spacecraft to orbit a comet, is now dead, quietly landing on the companion it has observed for the past two years. Its final radio signals arrived at the mission operations center in Darmstadt, Germany at 7:20 a.m. Eastern time after it hit Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at a speed of 2 miles per hour, slower than a walk. Before it went silent, it collected and sent back one last batch of data and images, including some very close-up shots of the comet’s surface. (9/30)

NASA Considers Buying More Russian Rides to ISS (Source: Ars Technica)
NASA is reportedly weighing the possibility of purchasing addition Soyuz seats for trips to the ISS in 2019. Sources at the Johnson Space Center said discussions are underway, although no decision is expected until late this year. The purchases may be necessary if commercial crew vehicles under development by Boeing and SpaceX suffer additional delays. Earlier this week, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said there were no plans to buy Soyuz seats for 2019 missions. (9/29)

Gogo Confident of Bandwidth Availability (Source: Space News)
Gogo thinks there is plenty of satellite bandwidth to serve projected growth in its airline broadband business. The company said it believes there will be a surplus of Ku-band capacity over North America by 2020, allowing the company to serve 2,800 commercial aircraft at a time. The introduction of high-throughput satellites will also allow the company to increase the capacity available to each aircraft from 50 megabits per second today to 100 or more starting in late 2017. (9/29)

India Uses Satellite Imagery for Military Operation (Source: Times of India)
India's military used imagery from an ISRO satellite for the first time to support a raid in Pakistan. The Indian army used images from the Cartosat series of spacecraft to support "surgical strikes" early Thursday on suspected terrorist camps in a region of Kashmir controlled by Pakistan. The latest Cartosat satellite, launched in June, can provide images with a resolution of 65 centimeters. (9/29)

Airbus Restructures Senior Management (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Airbus is restructuring its senior management by combining the corporate headquarters with its airliner group. The move will integrate the headquarters for the overall Airbus Group with that of its commercial airliner group, cutting a number of jobs in the process. The move doesn't directly affect the company's defense and space work, but the company hopes they will benefit from reduced overhead costs. (9/29)

Harris Delivers GPS Receiver (Source: Space News)
Harris has delivered the first receiver for a troubled next-generation GPS satellite control system to Raytheon. The receiver is the first of 34 that will be used as part of the Operational Control System (OCX) for the GPS 3 series of satellites. The overall OCX program has suffered delays and cost overruns that triggered a Nunn-McCurdy breach and ongoing review of the program earlier this year. (9/29)

SpaceWorks Releases Update to Human Stasis Research (Source: SEI)
SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc. (SEI) has released an update to its research into a human stasis approach for long-duration space missions. The concept involves placing the crew of a Mars mission into a prolonged hypothermic state during the in-space transit phases, both Mars-outbound and Earth-return. With Phase II support and funding provided by the NASA HQ's NIAC program, SpaceWorks has identified four key areas to further focus their efforts and assembled a medical team to assist in the research.

Placing a crew in torpor, an induced deep sleep state achieved via mild hypothermia, during the in-space mission phases appears to address a number of the medical challenges associated with space flight, including: bone demineralization, muscle atrophy, increased intracranial pressure (IIP), radiation exposure, and psycho-social problems. Furthermore, the reduced metabolic rates achieved through torpor relax the mission requirements on consumable food and water, and positively impact the design of the habitat's environmental control, life support, and power systems. (9/30)

Don’t Count Iran’s Nascent Space Capabilities Out (Source: WPR)
The head of Iran’s space agency announced plans last month to launch three satellites into orbit within the next year: the Doutsi earth-observation satellite, the Tolou remote sensing satellite and the Aat Sat telecommunications satellite. (9/30)

Flashback 2015: Iran Cancels its Space Program (Source: War Is Boring)
On Jan. 9, the Iranian government passed a new law disbanding its main space agency, eliminating the agency’s budget line and dissolving four of its main sub-institutions … for cost-saving reasons, mostly. Other agencies absorbed many of the space program’s technology and staff. At the time of announcement—first reported by Mehr News—we explained that Tehran would probably launch a few of the space agency’s remaining rockets, mostly for propaganda purposes.

After six years of massive expenditures and lurid propaganda, the unceremonious cancellation occurred without notice in the Iranian press. Authorities are spreading the space agency’s manpower and assets across four ministries including the telecoms ministry and the ministry of defense.

The Imam Khomeini Space Center in Semnan was responsible for the construction and launch of the rockets. The Iranian Space Research Center in Tehran oversaw development of subsystems. The Imam Sadegh Observatory Complex in Arak tracked Iranian and foreign satellites. Dozens of small university research groups supported the three main facilities. (1/9/2015)

Boeing's Lunar Space Station Will Be Stepping Stone to Mars (Source: Inverse)
Boeing has revealed a timeline for the assemblage of its highly anticipated crewed lunar space station, which will serve as a key testing ground on our journey to Mars. Using five Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft launches to bring all the components into space, Boeing says it will assemble the station between 2021 and 2025.

This station is essentially the second phase of Boeing’s long-term plan to put humans on Mars. Following tests at the International Space Station, the aerospace company will use this structure to test life-support technologies and various vehicular operations in the moon’s orbit. Later, in the early 2030s — according to Boeing vice president and general manager for space exploration John Elbon — there will be a mission to the red planet’s orbit, followed by a surface landing a few years after that. (9/29)

Starliner Training Systems Uunveiled at Johnson Space Center (Source: Seattle Times)
Boeing Space Exploration and NASA marked another milestone in the development of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft Wednesday with the installation of training and simulator systems at Johnson Space Center. “That is the exciting part of today,” JSC Director Ellen Ochoa said. “Seeing all of the operational things coming together.

“It is handy for astronauts to have their offices right across the hall from the simulation. It’s easy to do their training here.” NASA in 2014 awarded Boeing a $4.2 billion contract to develop the Starliner. Once completed, it will allow the United States to return to the International Space Station for the first time since 2011. (9/29)

NASA’s Gecko-Inspired Robots Can Climb Pretty Much Anything (Source: WIRED)
Adhesion-wise, space presents a couple problems. First, robots typically struggle with uneven surfaces, let alone the kind of cliffs and crags you see on Mars. Second, space is kind of gravity challenged. And that’s not just a problem in microgravity. Low gravity environments, like asteroids or comets, can be uncooperative too.

 “A fairly common path for us is the biomimicry approach.” When Karras and his team would test climbing robots out on vertical rock walls, lizards would blaze right past them. But rather than getting annoyed at the speedy little reptiles, Jaakko Karras decided to take his cues from evolution instead. His team’s adhesive makes use of van der Waals forces, which geckos use to climb smooth surfaces. For bumpy ones, his team built claw-inspired microspine grippers that can bend and flex. Click here. (9/29)

Hyten, Thompson Confirmations Complete Obama’s Milspace Leadership Shuffle (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Senate has confirmed two more of President Obama’s picks for top military space posts, completing a leadership shuffle that began when Lt. Gen. John “Jay” Raymond got the nod to lead Air Force Space Command. Raymond, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for operations at the Pentagon, was nominated for the Colorado Springs post  — and his fourth star — Sep. 7.

He was confirmed Sep. 15 without fanfare, the same day that the Senate quietly okayed Obama’s proposal to move Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves from his command post at the Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles, to Huntsville, Alabama, where he will replace Navy Vice Adm. James Syring as the Missile Defense Agency’s director. (9/29)

Funding Bid Launches for UK Prestwick Spaceport Plan (Source: Daily Record)
Fresh investment could be on its way as council leaders in North and East Ayrshire vote through Growth Deal plans, with South set to follow. An ambitious plan to inject £360million of fresh funding into Ayrshire is set to go before government ministers. A bid for an Ayrshire Growth Deal has been drawn up, aiming to secure funding for plans including the Spaceport at Prestwick Airport. (9/30)

No comments: