October 27, 2017

NASA Headquarters Building Bought By South Korean Firm (Source: Pulse)
A South Korean realty company is set to become NASA's new landlord. KTB Asset Management is in negotiations to purchase the Washington building that hosts NASA Headquarters from Piedmont Office Realty Trust, which put the building on the market last month. A deal to buy the building for an estimated $394 million could close by early next year. NASA has a long-term lease on the building that runs until 2029. (10/26)

Philippines Considers Space Agency (Source: GMA)
Legislators in the Philippines have introduced bills to create a national space agency. The legislation, simultaneously introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives, would create a Philippines Space Agency responsible for developing space policies and programs in the country. The bills' sponsors say the initial response to the legislation from their colleagues has been positive. (10/26)

Government Needs to Rethink How it Works with Private Space Ventures (Source: Space News)
A top Defense Department official says regulatory reforms are needed to improve how the government works with companies. At a panel session this week, Doug Loverro, deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy, said the regulatory framework for space companies has lagged developments in the industry, with effects on areas ranging from commercial remote sensing to space traffic management. Loverro and other panelists at the CSIS event called for less restrictive regulations in areas like remote sensing, as well as new ways for the government to more effectively make use of commercial capabilities. (10/26)

SpaceX Expert Tells Jury Harassment Accuser Mentally Ill (Source: Law360)
SpaceX on Wednesday called a forensic psychiatrist to testify in the California jury trial on a woman's claims that she was sexually harassed while welding at the aerospace company, with the expert saying the woman has textbook signs of borderline personality disorder, including "telling stories." (10/26)

NASA's Popular, But That Only Goes So Far in Washington (Source: Huntsville Times)
NASA may be Washington's most popular "brand," but its future success won't flow from popularity, but from its service to America's international and domestic needs. "Space policy derives from national security, foreign policy, economic and other political issues," said Scott Pace, a former government official and current director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University. "We are the nation's humble servant, supposed to serve those interests."

Pace told an audience at the 9th Wernher von Braun Space Symposium that America is living in "incredibly ... increasingly dangerous times," an allusion in part to recent cyber conflict with Russia. "It demands partnerships with friends and allies, and we want to give them a stake in what we do," Pace said. "That means finding projects we can do together so they will support us (on other issues)." (10/26)

Eight Embarrassing Failures of the Space Age (Source: New Atlas)
Space is difficult and dangerous. Many men and women have lost their lives both in flight and on the ground in many different countries in opening up the final frontier. There's no discounting the tales of tragedy and heroism that marked the Space Race and beyond, but there are other stories as well – ones that are funny, or at least show that even the boldest Captain Kirk type can end up doing a face palm now and again. And that fact goes back to the very beginning. Click here. (10/26)

Clinton Wants Balanced NASA Program With Climate Research, Exploration Partnerships (Source: Space Policy Online)
While Kohlenberger does not say that Clinton would reestablish a White House National Space Council, as Walker and Navarro said Trump would do, he states that she "will elevate executive branch coordination of federal space agency initiatives." He does not specify the mechanism for accomplishing that goal.

The need for NASA and NOAA to engage in climate change research is specifically called out.  Kohlenberger criticizes Trump's opinion that climate change is "a hoax," stating that it is not just "shortsighted," but endangers space exploration since launch sites in Florida and Virginia are vulnerable to rising sea levels.  Clinton "knows that climate change is an urgent threat" and NASA and NOAA programs to study it are "invaluable." Click here. (10/25)

Major Raytheon Expansion Could Bring Nearly 2,000 Jobs to Tucson (Source: Arizona Daily Star)
The region and county’s largest private employer, Raytheon Missile Systems, is planning a major local expansion that could bring nearly 2,000 jobs at high average salaries. One official the expansion is due to the county’s $6 million purchase of 382 acres of land near Raytheon in 2012 to provide a buffer for the company. “The buffer makes the deal possible,” the official said. (10/27)

US, China Silent on Space Talks, Except to Say There Will Be More (Source: VOA)
The United States and China appear to be keeping an unusually low profile as they push for more dialogue and cooperation on space exploration. The State Department hosted a new round of space cooperation talks in Washington last week with a delegation led by China’s National Space Administration (CNSA), but U.S. officials didn’t publicly announce the meeting until Monday, via a tersely worded press release that said a third round of civil space dialogue would be held in China next year. (10/25)

Air Force Sponsors Tests of Generation Orbit Air-Launch System (Source: GO)
Generation Orbit Launch Services has won an SBIR Phase II Extension from the Air Force Research Laboratory to enable wind tunnel and integrated hot fire testing of the GO1 hypersonic testbed. These efforts will further the development of the vehicle by validating aerodynamic models and demonstrating the functionality of the fully integrated GO1 rocket vehicle system. Wind tunnel testing will be accomplished at an AFRL facility in Ohio. Integrated hot fire testing will be conducted at AFRL's facilities in California. (10/27)

'Alien Megastructure' Star Targeted by $100 Million SETI Search (Source: Space.com)
If intelligent aliens actually do live around Tabby's star, astronomers are determined to find them. The Breakthrough Listen initiative, which will spend $100 million over the next 10 years to hunt for signals possibly produced by alien civilizations, is set to begin studying Tabby's star with the 330-foot-wide (100 meters) Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, project team members announced.

"The Green Bank Telescope is the largest fully steerable radio telescope on the planet, and it's the largest, most sensitive telescope that's capable of looking at Tabby's star given its position in the sky," Breakthrough Listen co-director Andrew Siemion, who also directs the Berkeley SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a statement. (10/25)

Hillary Will Expand Our Space Potential (Source: Space News)
We are fortunate to be entering a dynamic new era in space – one that will enable us to explore new worlds, expand our scientific knowledge, push the frontiers of technological innovation, and achieve our boldest aspirations in space. This forward trajectory has been fueled by pragmatic policies that have brought together our brightest minds, and newest technologies, to forge new frontiers. As president, Secretary Clinton will not only build on our progress in space, but will advance inspirational, achievable, and affordable space initiatives.

While her opponent compares the world’s most capable space program to that of a “third world nation,” Secretary Clinton knows better. She will advance American ideals with a program that balances space science, technology, and exploration; protects our security through Earth systems monitoring; and maximizes the impact of our space program by promoting stronger coordination across federal agencies, cooperation with industry, and collaboration with the international community.

Secretary Clinton understands that to ensure continued U.S leadership in space, it is critical that NASA have the resources and predictable funding necessary to achieve its goals and missions. As president, she will support the key public investments that help drive advances in science and technology, both in space science and in Earth science, and deepen support for strong public-private partnerships that create jobs and improve lives throughout our country and around the world. Click here. (10/25)

Why Schiaparelli Probe's 'Crash Land" is No Failure (Source: Newsweek)
Let’s remember that Schiaparelli was primarily meant to test European landing technologies, with science as a secondary objective. Recording the data during the descent has already achieved a lot of the mission’s goals. The 600 megabytes of data that Schiaparelli sent us before it lost contact contains within it clues to how ESA can improve its Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) systems for next time.

This data matters because of several major technical roadblocks for future attempts to put humans on Mars, all of which can be overcome with enough investment in space technologies. Chief among those is the need for EDL technology to put ten-to-20 metric tons on the surface of Mars at once. (10/24)

European Mars Lander Software May Have Led to Crash (Source: Nature)
A computer glitch may have caused the crash of Europe's Schiaparelli Mars lander. The spacecraft likely plummeted the last two to four kilometers to the planet's surface, exploding on impact, when its thrusters shut down prematurely during a landing attempt last week. An ESA official said a computer problem may have led the spacecraft to think it was lower in altitude than it actually was, to the point of turning on instruments intended for use after landing while still descending. That software was among the elements ESA planned to demonstrate on Schiaparelli for use on the ExoMars 2020 lander mission. (10/25)

FAA: Taking Space Management From Air Force Won't Break Bank (Source: Space News)
The FAA believes it can take over space situational awareness work from the Air Force for "well under" $100 million. At an industry day Tuesday, FAA officials said they are still studying a wide range of options for providing collision warnings for non-military spacecraft, with varying degrees of reliance on data and other resources provided by the Air Force. The FAA, though, thinks it can establish its program for less than $100 million, and "on the order" of $20 million a year thereafter, once it receives authority to do so. Both the FAA and the Defense Department support such a shift in space situational awareness work. (10/25)

Europe Seeks to Promote Space Startups (Source: Space News)
A new European Union space strategy promotes the development of space startup companies. The strategy, unveiled Wednesday by the EU's executive commission, says Europe needs more entrepreneurial space activity to "stay ahead of the curve" in space, and promotes the use of the Investment Plan for Europe and the upcoming Venture Capital Fund of Funds to support European space ventures. The strategy also calls for the development of a "comprehensive" European space situational awareness program and for a European military communications satellite effort. (10/25)

Insanely Fuel Efficient Engine Could Go To Mars And Back On One Tank Of Fuel (Source: IFL Science)
An ion engine that smashes the fuel efficiency record has been registered for an innovation patent. Inventor Patrick Neumann told University of Sydney student newspaper Honi Soit the drive could go to “Mars and back on a tank of fuel”, but its first application may be shunting networks of small satellites around in Earth orbit.

Neumann says the idea for the ion engine came to him as a third year student assisting a postdoc as part of a program to connect undergrads with real research. Neumann measured the speed of titanium ions released by a pulsed electric arc, similar to an arc welder. “The titanium was coming out at 20 kilometers per second [12.4 miles per second] and I thought 'you could use that for thrust',” he told IFLScience. In subsequent work Neumann proved his hunch right, eventually testing the suitability of 11 materials.

The results were dramatic. One measure of thruster efficiency is specific impulse, commonly called “bounce per ounce,” and is measured in seconds. The existing record is NASA's High Power Electric Propulsion (HiPeP) with 9,600 seconds, but fueled by magnesium Neumann's drive managed an estimated 14,600 seconds of specific impulse. He says “Other metals have lower efficiency, but higher thrust. So you would need more fuel to get to Mars, but could get there faster.” (9/21)

Let's Talk Space (Source: Space KSC)
For whatever reason, both the Trump and Clinton campaigns finally are talking more about U.S. space policy. Click here. (10/26)

Tiny Satellite Beams Back Photos of China's Tiangong-2 Space Lab (Source: Space.com)
A tiny satellite has provided the first good look at China's orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab. Tiangong-2 launched on Sept. 15, and two astronauts aboard a spacecraft called Shenzhou-11 docked with the vehicle last week. On Sunday these two crewmembers, Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong, deployed a 104-lb. satellite from the orbiting complex. Known as Banxing-2, it has now beamed home hundreds of up-close images of the two linked-up spacecraft. (10/26)

Florida to Help SpaceX Ready KSC Pad for Crew Launches (Source: Florida Today)
SpaceX's preparations to launch astronauts from Kennedy Space Center received a $5 million boost from the state on Wednesday. During a special meeting, Space Florida's board of directors agreed to provide the money to help SpaceX install an access arm at historic pad 39A that astronauts will use to board Dragon capsules bound for the International Space Station, possibly in 2018.

Officials said SpaceX, which must at least double the state's contribution, planned to invest $25 million in the project, creating 130 construction jobs. Obviously an important project, and moving to Commercial Crew is both exciting and an important part of the future of the spaceport," said William Dymond, chairman of Space Florida's board. (10/26)

Six Contractors Have Begun Work on NASA’s Gateway to Deep Space (Source: Ars Technica)
NASA has a problem. It has a big rocket under development. It has a shiny new spacecraft to fly into deep space. And it has a cadre of brilliant astronauts waiting in a long line to fly beyond low-Earth orbit. But the SLS rocket, Orion spacecraft and crew members have nowhere to go—there is no Moon lander, and asteroids and Mars are too far away for now.

NASA plans to address its problem by parking a “deep space” habitat in a location near the Moon, which astronauts could visit and use to become acclimated to life beyond low-Earth orbit. President Obama mentioned deep space habitats earlier this month, when he reiterated his call for NASA to send humans to Mars.

Before the president's mention, this NextSTEP program had received surprisingly little attention given its significance—it might be the most important contract NASA awards for next decade. NASA has welcomed a broad range of companies into the competition for building a deep space habitat. The six finalists are Bigelow Aerospace, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and NanoRacks. (10/26)

SpaceX’s Mysterious Rocket Explosion Gets a Little Bit Clearer (Source: WIRED)
SpaceX has been fairly mum with details on what went wrong last month on Launch Complex 40. The investigation is a collaborative effort between SpaceX, the FAA, NASA, the US Air Force, and industry experts. Together, they are looking at over 3,000 channels of engineering data, along with video, audio and imagery, the company said.

The investigation itself might inevitably hit a wall of conjecture. “They are looking at some of the charred remains to see what part failed and was there a manufacturing problem,” says Marco Caceres, a space industry analyst at the Vienna, VA, based Teal Group. “Or was it just a one of those freak accidents? I’m not sure they are every going to know exactly.”

For his contribution to the speculation, Caceres noted that a fueling failure could occur from a small piece of brittle metal that begins vibrating, breaks apart, lodges into a fuel line and causes combustion. SpaceX is testing this sort of malfunction at its McGregor, TX, facility. (10/25)

Trump Promises Space, Tech Jobs for Central Florida (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Donald Trump promised to bring space and technology jobs to Central Florida at an outdoor rally Tuesday in Sanford, mixing policy with bitter invective against his opponent and Washington. “I will free NASA from the restriction of serving primarily as a logistical agency for low Earth-orbit activities,” he told thousands of supporters. “We will instead refocus on space exploration. Under a Trump administration, Florida and America will lead the way into the stars.” (10/25)

Juno Seems to Be Doing Fine 594 Million Miles from Home (Source: Inverse)
NASA’s Juno Mission has run into some problems on its voyage to orbit Jupiter and study the gas giant. On October 18, the probe went into safe mode, meaning it turned off all non-essential processes while it pondered how to deal with an unexpected threat, or change in environment. It could’ve been much worse, but NASA announced on Tuesday that Juno had exited safe mode and appears to be doing fine. (10/25)

No comments: