October 28, 2016

KLX Aerospace Solutions Expands in South Florida (Source: Florida Trend)
Governor Rick Scott announced that KLX Aerospace Solutions Group will be expanding their new global headquarters and distribution hub between Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. KLX Aerospace Solutions Group has committed to adding over 100 employees due to the expansion. KLX Aerospace Solutions is a leading distributor and service provider of aerospace fasteners and consumables and employs over 650 Floridians. The new facility will include two floors of office space and a storage and distribution area. (10/27)

China Wins Breakthrough Contract for Thaicom Telecommunications Satellite (Source: Space News)
China Great Wall Industry Corp.’s win of a contract for a high-throughput Ka-band broadband satellite for Thailand’s Thaicom is a breakthrough deal for China’s satellite export industry, which up to now has relied on domestic demand and special-circumstances orders, mainly from emerging-market governments.

The contract, from Thaicom subsidiary International Satellite Co. Ltd., is valued at $208 million covering the satellite’s construction and launch, continuing a China Great Wall Industry Corp. (CGWIC) practice of bundling satellite construction and launch contracts. (10/28)

Cosmic Rays May Threaten Space-Weather Satellite (Source: Nature)
A US space-weather satellite that is supposed to alert Earth to incoming solar storms has temporarily dropped offline five times in the year since it became operational. Its onboard computer may be experiencing hiccups caused unexpectedly by galactic cosmic rays.

The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) went out of action most recently on 11 October. In each case, it unexpectedly entered a ‘safe hold’ in which scientific data stopped flowing and engineers had to scramble to try to recover the spacecraft. In total, DSCOVR’s space-weather forecasting instruments have been offline for more than 42 hours since 28 October 2015, when NOAA took the spacecraft over from NASA, which built and launched it. (10/28)

California Startup Made In Space to Make Optical Fiber in Orbit (Source: Space.com)
Society is about to take another big step into the age of space-based manufacturing. Early next year, California-based startup Made In Space plans to launch a machine to the International Space Station (ISS) that will produce ZBLAN optical fiber.

ZBLAN has the potential to be much more efficient than the silica-based fiber currently used in the internet and telecommunications industries, but it's tough to make here on Earth because the planet's strong gravitational pull induces imperfections in the ZBLAN crystal lattice, Made In Space representatives said. (10/28)

How The Universe Would Look If You Could See Radio Waves (Source: Huffington Post)
Maybe you’ve always wondered what the universe would look like if you could see radio waves ― or maybe not. Either way, you’ll be wowed by this extraordinary new view of the cosmos as seen by the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope in the Australian outback. Even astronomers are awed by the view, a product of the Galactic and Extragalactic All-Sky MWA (GLEAM) survey of 300,000 galaxies in frequencies from 70 to 230 megahertz. Those frequencies are invisible to the naked eye. Click here. (10/27)

KSC Evaluating the Groundwork Challenges for SLS Block 1B Upgrades (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
NASA’s monster rocket will evolve into an even larger vehicle early in her lifetime, as the Block 1 rocket grows into the workhorse known as the Block 1B. With a large increase in capability – and height – the Block 1B will require a revamp of numerous elements of the KSC ground systems, ranging from major changes to the new Mobile Launcher, through to need for a new LH2 storage sphere at the pad. Click here. (10/27)

Turbines From Outer Space Lift Lockheed Into New Energy Frontier (Source: Bloomberg)
Lockheed Martin Corp. says engineering tidal turbines to withstand the relentless pounding of the Earth’s oceans isn’t much different than the machines it makes to survive the extreme conditions of outer space. The world’s largest defense contractor is trying to redirect more of its high-tech military knowledge to civilian markets. Lockheed Martin’s new mission: apply more than a century of know-how to renewable-energy technologies that may mitigate the international security challenges of climate change. (10/25)

Spire CEO: We are Launching Satellites Every Month (Source: Via Satellite)
Satellite data company Spire is vying to get as many of its satellites in orbit as possible after launch delays curbed the company’s ability to reach a desired constellation of 20 satellites by the end of last year. Today Spire has 12 satellites in orbit, and is aggressively pushing in hopes of still reaching twice the 2015 goal by the end of this year.

Spire’s holdup is not in the company’s ability to gain customers, produce satellites, or sign launch contracts. On the contrary, the company recently won a landmark contract with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the U.S., has been in the spotlight for effectively producing and using small satellites, or smallsats, and has inked launch agreements with a wide variety of providers, including India’s Antrix. (10/26)

Midland Spaceport a Compatible Landing Site for Dream Chaser (Source: SPACErePORT)
The Midland Development Corporation and Sierra Nevada on Nov. 3 will present the successful result of an effort to establish the Midland International Air & Space Port as a designated compatible landing site for Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser reusable spaceplane. (10/26)

Election Only the Start of a Long-Term NASA Transition (Source: Space News)
A presidential transition process that will start in earnest at NASA after Election Day in November will not wrap up until long after Inauguration Day in January, an agency official said Oct. 25. While both Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump established transition teams after accepting their parties’ nominations this summer, months ahead of the Nov. 8 general election, that planning has yet to involve “landing teams” for NASA. Click here. (10/27)

Iron-Loving Bacteria a Model For Mars Life (Source: Space.com)
Single-celled microbes are considered a living example of the kind of life that might exist elsewhere in the universe, as they are able to survive some of the extreme conditions that exist on other worlds.

New research on the bacterium Tepidibacillus decaturensis shows that it could be a model organism for what might live on Mars, should any creature inhabit the Red Planet. This microorganism, found in water more than a mile underground in the Illinois Basin in a formation known as Mount Simon Sandstone, has been shown to be moderately tolerant of heat and salt and able to persist in an anoxic environment. Mars itself is believed to harbor similarly briny surface water without the presence of oxygen. (10/27)

Space is All the Same Temperature. Coincidence? (Source: New Scientist)
The temperature of the cosmic microwave background – the radiation bathing all of space – is remarkably uniform. It varies by less than 0.001 degrees from a chilly 2.725 kelvin. But while that might seem natural enough, this consistency is a real puzzle. For two widely separated areas of the cosmos to reach thermal equilibrium, heat needs enough time to travel from one to the other.

Even if this happens at the speed of light, the universe is just too young for this to have happened. Cosmologists try to explain this uniformity using the hypothesis known as inflation. It replaces the simple idea of a big bang with one in which there was also a moment of exponential expansion. This sudden, faster-than-light increase in the size of the universe allows it to have started off smaller than an atom, when it would have had plenty of time to equalize its temperature. (10/26)

The Space Industry’s New Bet: Putting an “App Store” in Orbit (Source: Quartz)
The influx of Silicon Valley talent and money into the space sector has naturally brought with it some classic Silicon Valley business plans—and now, space firms are eager to replicate the market-creating power of an app store in orbit.

The next generation of satellite entrepreneurs shouldn’t have to worry about carefully building satellites in clean rooms, plotting orbital mechanics, and finding a rocket to launch on. They can just think of space as a place where a unique collection of hardware can provide useful data and communications options.

To that end, Vector, a company that is developing a small rocket to deliver small satellites to space, is also investing in a software development kit for a platform called Galactic Sky. The kit will allow developers to build and test an application that could operate on satellites with standardized communications and sensing equipment. (10/26)

Samsung Isn’t the Only One with Lithium Ion Battery Problems. Just Ask NASA (Source: WIRED)
On June 14, 2016, four researchers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory were preparing to ship a waist-high, ape-like robot named RoboSimian off-site. They had built the bot to rescue people from dangerous situations that human rescuers can’t hack. The scientists swapped one lithium-ion battery for a fresh one, then left for lunch to let the new power supply charge.

Left alone in the lab, RoboSimian’s battery did what such batteries famously do: went boom. Plumes of smoke vented from the robot’s exposed torso, followed by a burst of flame. Fire filled the room, then stabilized at the size of a toxic campfire. (10/27)

OneWeb in Talks With Japan’s SoftBank About Potential Linkup (Source: Wall Street Journal)
OneWe, a satellite-internet startup whose backers include Airbus Group SE and entrepreneur Richard Branson, is in talks with Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. about a potential strategic linkup, according to people familiar with the matter.

No deal has been finalized, these people said, and OneWeb representatives also have engaged in discussions with other possible suitors. It isn’t clear whether SoftBank, a global internet and telecommunications company with an interest in satellite technology, is seeking to become a minority funder or to acquire a significant stake in OneWeb. The talks haven’t been reported before.

They were initiated as part of OneWeb’s effort to raise roughly $500 million this fall to support its previously announced constellation of some 640 small, low-Earth orbit satellites designed to deliver fast broadband connections in rural and emerging markets. But as discussions with SoftBank progressed, according to one person familiar with the matter, the focus shifted to the possibility of a broader transaction. (10/25)

Northrop Grumman Profit Rises 16.7 Percent (Source: Reuters)
U.S. weapons maker Northrop Grumman reported a 16.7 percent rise in quarterly profit, partly helped by higher sales in its aerospace systems business, which makes the center sections of the F-35 fighter jets. The company's net earnings rose to $602 million in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, from $516 million a year earlier. Total sales rose 2.9 percent to $6.16 billion. (10/26)

Long-Awaited NASA Plum Brook Rocket Tests Delayed (Source: Sandusky Register)
The relaunch process for NASA Plum Brook’s rocket testing chamber backfired a bit. Space officials expected to reactivate the B-2 facility this fall with its first project occurring there in almost 20 years. But several complications pushed back the Morpheus vehicle testing until January. The tests should take about six weeks to complete. (10/28)

New, Detailed Photo Shows Crater Created When Europe's Mars Lander Crashed (Source: Mashable)
A new image beamed home by NASA's powerful Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) at the red planet shows that the European Space Agency's Schiaparelli lander did indeed crash hard into the world during its attempted landing on Oct. 19. The MRO took a photo of Schiaparelli last week, revealing the site of the crater, but the new high-resolution photo shows more of the details of the crash site and its surroundings. (10/28)

China's Heavy Lift Rocket Readied for First Mission (Source: Xinhua)
China has rolled out its new heavy-lift rocket for a launch next week. The Long March 5 moved to its launch pad at the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on the island of Hainan Friday for a launch expected some time next week. The Long March 5 is China's largest rocket yet developed, with a payload capacity similar to the largest U.S. launch vehicle currently in service, the Delta 4 Heavy. (10/28)

DynCorp May Soon Be On the Market (Source: Washington Business Journal)
Citing three unnamed sources, Debtwire reported last month that DynCorp International Inc. hired SunTrust to help advise it on a potential sale. (10/27)

KSC Employees are NASA Proud (Source: NASA)
NASA is known as a great place to work for several reasons. Hear real employees share their personal motivations and stories about why they are proud to work at NASA. Click here. (10/24)

Satellites Activated to Assess Earthquake Damage in Italy (Source: Thales)
In response to a request from Italian authorities, the European Union’s Copernicus Emergency Management Services were immediately activated to provide satellite-based damage assessment of the affected areas.

The powerful radars on the Sentinel-1 and COSMO-SkyMed satellites [both built by Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor] provide a rapid assessment of the impact on any region, as well as detailed images of the specific areas where damage occurs. They both use synthetic aperture radars (SAR) that can “see” through clouds day or night and in any weather, and can measure ground movements to within a centimeter. (10/28)

How DARPA's Space Surveillance Telescope Works (Source: DARPA)
The innovative design of DARPA's Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) allows for a short focal length, wide field of view, and a compact optical train. The SST's mirrors are some of the steepest aspherical curvatures ever to be polished and allow the telescope to have the fastest optics of its aperture class. These features combine to provide orders of magnitude improvements in deep space surveillance. Click here. (10/27)

Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty is not Self-Executing and Should Not be Treated as an Obstacle to Private Space Activity (Source: Ground Based Space Matters)
There are many claims these days that a new regulatory regime needs to be in place in order for a private entity to operate in outer space. These claims should not be treated as correct to the extent that they claim that private parties may not operate in outer space unless authorized and continuously supervised. As noted in a previous post, not all provisions of the Outer Space Treaty are self-executing, so until Congress acts, those treaty provisions don’t bind private operators. That logic applies to the treaty’s Article VI as well. Click here. (10/14)

SpaceX Ignored Harassment Of Welder, Jury Told (Source: Law360)
Counsel for a woman accusing SpaceX of permitting sexual harassment said Friday during closing arguments that the company ignored clear signs of harassment and then refused to accommodate her psychological disability caused by the harassment, while SpaceX countered that the woman's claims are delusions spawned by a mental disorder. (10/28)

'We're Not Doing Our Job,' NASA Leader Tells Alabama Rocket Engineers (Source: Huntsville Times)
"We are not doing our job," NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman told a roomful of aerospace engineers in Huntsville. "I can put it clearly on us." An aerospace engineer herself, Newman was speaking about the hurdles the profession puts in front of women and minority students.

"We said, 'You have to be the best and brightest in calculus and math and physics.' Well, how intimidating is that?" Newman asked. "No, no, no. I say it's a different conversation. 'You want to find life in the universe? You want to build rockets? Then, you're in.'" Instead of filtering students out, Newman said government, academia and industry today are looking for ways "to filter every single one of those young folks in."

If young people see themselves helping solve the world's problems, Newman said afterward, engineers should respond, "OK, well you know an engineer does that, and here are the tools. You take your math, your calculus and they're just tools. You need to be proficient, but you don't need to be the best student in class at that. (10/27)

SES Records Video Growth (Source: Broadband TV News)
Growth in the number of HD channels and the first contribution from RR Media has helped SES increase the proportion of its revenues derived from its video business. Reported video revenues of €1,026.8 million contributed to a total of €1,490.1 million, in line with the prior period. Profit for the first nine months of the year was €824 million.

Karim Michel Sabbagh, President and CEO said: “These results demonstrate that SES’s differentiated strategy is enabling the return to sustainable long-term growth, with third quarter revenue higher than both the previous two quarters (same scope). The positive growth dynamics in global video are accelerating and MX1 is already gaining market traction, as demonstrated by the recent contract for global distribution of the English Premier League.” (10/28)

Amazon May Not Be Bezos' Biggest Accomplishment (Source: CNBC)
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos discussed his vision of making space travel more affordable for the next generation of entrepreneurs. He plans to use Blue Origin, his aerospace manufacturing company, to build reusable rockets that use far less fuel, and effectively "lower the admission price" of space and make it more accessible. He said when he started Amazon, he didn't have to build any of the infrastructure because the internet was already invented and there was an existing system for delivery and payment.

Now, after benefiting from all the "infrastructure" that was laid before he founded the e-commerce giant in 1994, he says it's his turn to do the "heavy lifting." He envisions a future where all "heavy industry" exists in space. This way, he says, we can both preserve the planet and reap the benefits of outer space resources, like unlimited solar energy.

"I believe it's incredibly important that we humans go out into space … We need to do that to preserve the Earth," he said. "The engineering challenge involved with building a highly profitable, reusable vehicle is gigantic," he added. "But if you can do that, it's a game changer." (10/27)

Russian Scientists Will Track Sea Lions From Space (Source: Tass)
Researchers at the Kamchatka branch of the Pacific Institute of Geography of Russia’s Science Academy’s Far East Department now have the opportunity to monitor Steller sea lions that are on Russia’s Red List of Threatened Species, from space, the Komandorsky Nature Reserve’s Spokesman Alexei Veledinsky told TASS on Friday. The researchers succeeded in installing five GPS tags on two full-grown sea lionesses and three cubs on the national park’s territory. (10/28)

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