November 11, 2016

Climate Change May Be Escalating So Fast it Could Be 'Game Over' (Source: Independent)
It is a vision of a future so apocalyptic that it is hard to even imagine. But, if leading scientists writing in one of the most respected academic journals are right, planet Earth could be on course for global warming of more than seven degrees Celsius within a lifetime. And that, according to one of the world’s most renowned climatologists, could be “game over” – particularly given the imminent presence of climate change denier Donald Trump in the White House.

Scientists have long tried to work out how the climate will react over the coming decades to the greenhouse gases humans are pumping into the atmosphere. According to the current best estimate, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), if humans carry on with a “business as usual” approach using large amounts of fossil fuels, the Earth’s average temperature will rise by between 2.6 and 4.8 degrees above pre-industrial levels by 2100. (11/11)

NATO Satellite Program's Slow Progress Could Trigger Extension (Source: Space News)
NATO is so far behind in planning for a next-generation military satellite communications system that it may have to extend an existing contract. Gregory B. Edwards, director of infrastructure services at the NATO Communications and Information Agency, said at the Global Milsatcom conference Thursday that extending the current contract, which expires in 2019, isn't desirable because of growing bandwidth requirements, particularly in spectrum bands like EHF and Ka-band not included in that contract. Edwards said he hopes NATO has its satellite communications requirements in place by early 2017 to then solicit contracts from member nations. (11/11)

NASA Emphasizes Importance of Earth Science Satellites Trump Might Cut (Source: Space News)
NASA used a briefing about an upcoming mission to make the case for the agency's overall Earth science efforts. "NASA's work on Earth science is making a difference in people's lives all around the world every day," Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science, said at a beginning of a briefing about the CYGNSS hurricane-tracking mission. Those comments come after the election of Donald Trump, whose space policy has proposed cutting funding for Earth science programs in favor of space exploration efforts. Republicans in Congress in recent years have also proposed cutting Earth science funding, although those efforts have largely been unsuccessful. (11/11)

NASA Considers Orion Alternatives (Source: Ars Technica)
A NASA request for information may be examining alternatives to production of the Orion spacecraft. The RFI, regarding options for future production of Orion, was intended to also request ideas for replacing Orion entirely with other spacecraft, according to unnamed sources. The RFI, those sources say, may be a signal to the next administration that the agency remains open to options other than the Space Launch System and Orion for its future exploration plans. Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor for Orion, said it has found ways to reduce recurring costs for Orion production by 50 percent to keep the program affordable. (11/11)

SLS a Trump Test (Source: SPACErePORT)
The incoming Trump administration will apparently bring a business-minded approach to big government programs, including those at NASA. Will the Space Launch System be among those programs targeted for cancellation? The SLS has seen both support and opposition from conservatives. Small-government advocates see it as duplicative of commercial efforts while others see it as a necessary exploration resource that happens to inject major funding into key NASA centers.

Will Trump (and Pence) view SLS as a wasteful government program, a politics-as-usual necessity for appeasing powerful members of Congress, or a vital (though possibly redundant) element of the US space exploration program? My bet is on the latter two. (11/11)

Oil Rig Slowdowns Mean Less Business for RigNet (Source: Space News)
A company that provides satellite communications services for the energy industry is losing business as oil rigs shut down. RigNet said that more than 90 rigs it provided communications for have shut down in the last two years because of dropping energy prices. RigNet, which primarily uses satellites to provide communications to those rigs, is restructuring to reduce its operating costs and workforce in response to the decline in business. (11/11)

Space Tourism: KSC Visitor Complex Opens New Attraction (Source: Florida Today)
A new exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex honoring past astronauts opens today. "Heroes and Legends" will serve as the new home of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, previously located in a separate facility several miles away. The exhibit also includes a 3-D "theater experience" simulating early space missions as well as a recreation of the mission control room used during the Mercury program. (11/11)

Who Will Donald Trump Choose as NASA Administrator? (Source: Blasting News)
One of the positions that President Election Donald Trump needs to fill and quickly is that of NASA administrator considering the great many changes he plans for the space agency. The two men who head up his NASA transition team. Former Rep. Bob Walker and Mark Albrecht, the executive director of the National Space Council under President George Bush 41 have become the front runners for the job.

Walker handled space policy when he was chair of the House Science Committee and therefore has some knowledge of how Congress works. He also is a good friend and ally of Newt Gingrich, a Trump advisor who has been mentioned for an appointment as secretary of state. Albrecht was present during the short life of Bush 41’s Space Exploration Initiative and therefore has some knowledge of the pitfalls that can kill a change in space policy.

Scott Pace, the Director of the Space Policy Institute at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, is another possibility. Mike Griffin is a dark horse candidate, even though he served in the job before. Currently, he works in academia and the private sector. He is somewhat popular at NASA and with Congress but has rubbed many New Space advocates the wrong way because of his reluctance to commercialize many space exploration programs. (11/10)

ACE is the Place for Space Coast Exporting (Source: SCWTC)
The Space Coast World Trade Council is sponsoring a December 2 event at the Melbourne International Airport to promote and assist local companies in the art of exporting. Please join us for overviews, discussions and a working simulation of the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) for electronic export reporting. The event will also focus on EAR and ITAR regulations relevant to exporters. Click here. (11/10)

NASA's Hurricane Microsatellite Fleet is Launching Soon (Source:
NASA scientists are gearing up for the Dec. 12 launch of the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS), a dedicated fleet of storm-watching microsatellites that will track hurricane evolution over Earth's oceans. CYGNSS will be an octet of 64-lb. microsatellites, each slightly larger than a carry-on suitcase, set in Earth orbit to monitor developing hurricanes and tropical cyclones.

While a single orbiting satellite could only provide updates on a given location every few days, the eight together will be able to report on developing storms every few hours as they pass overhead. The system is low-cost, coming in at $162 million to build and run. (11/10)

Lockheed Martin Responds to Report NASA is Looking at Alternatives to Orion (Source: Parabolic Arc)
"The NASA and Lockheed Martin team are approaching the end of Orion’s development phase having successfully tackled many of the toughest engineering challenges associated with deep space travel. Now, as outlined in Lockheed Martin’s response to NASA’s RFI, we’ve identified savings that will reduce the recurring production costs of Orion by 50 percent – and we aren’t stopping there.
We believe the cost savings we’ve defined in our response will enable decades of affordable human space exploration. Orion is the only ship built to NASA’s rigorous requirements for human deep space travel, and remains on track for Exploration Mission-1 in 2018." (11/10)

Russia to Start Developing Int'l Center for Interplanetary Spaceflights in 2017 (Source: Sputnik)
Russia will start developing an international center for interplanetary spaceflights project in 2017, with the experimental phase kicking off in fall, the head of Russia's Institute for Biomedical Problems (RIBP) said. "Work on the first experiment in this direction will be launched next year. The experimental phase will be held in autumn," Oleg Orlov told journalists. Orlov noted that preparatory works on putting the facilities of the international center into operation were already underway. (11/10)

Mars Sow Home Goes on Display in London (Source: Reuters)
A show home with features to help its residents survive life on Mars went on display in London on Thursday, offering visitors a glimpse of what setting up house on the red planet could look like if it ever happens. Set in a mocked-up Martian landscape at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, the pod-like construction has room for a bed and a computer desk and space to grow plants and exercise. Click here. (11/10)

Russia, NASA Will Jointly Train Crews for Interplanetary Travel (Source: Sputnik)
Russia and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) signed a cooperation agreement on a ground isolation program to prepare crews for future interplanetary spaceflights, the head of Russia's Institute for Biomedical Problems (RIBP) said Thursday.

"A five-year program to conduct isolation experiments has been drafted. An agreement has already been signed with NASA," the Russian Academy of Sciences' RIBP Director Oleg Orlov told reporters. (11/10)

First Russian 3D Printer to be Taken to ISS in 2018 (Source: Tass)
Russian researchers have developed the world’s first 3D printer capable of operating in the conditions of zero gravity and printing out the implements for cosmonauts. In 2018, it will be delivered for experiments to the International Space Station, Tomsk University of Technologies professor Sergei Psakhye told TASS on Thursday. (11/10)

UK's Beagle 2 Mars Probe Was 'Excruciatingly Close' to Success (Source: Guardian)
The broken-down Mars lander Beagle 2 came “excruciatingly close” to success scientists say, after new research has revealed that it managed to unfurl at least three of its four solar panels before giving up the ghost.

“It turns out we didn’t make that many mistakes,” said former Beagle 2 mission manager Mark Sims, currently professor of astrobiology and space science at the University of Leicester. Launched in 2003, the bicycle wheel-sized lander was designed to analyse the soil and atmosphere of Mars for signs of life. But Beagle 2 failed to make contact after it was deployed, and was feared to have crashed. (11/10)

Pathway to the Heavens Goes Through Texas Airport (Source: FoxNews)
Fly into Midland International Air and Space Port and it's evident what runs the economy, even before the plane lands. Look out the window as the pilot makes the final descent and next to the flight control radar is a pump jack. The big blue water tower next to the airport proudly reads "Midland, Feel The Energy." The “L” in “Midland” is an oil rig.

But as veteran oil men get off the plane from Houston, Oklahoma or Casper, Wyoming, something might hit them. They just flew into Midland’s Air and Spaceport. On a drive along the tarmac on a gloomy Thursday afternoon, three things were clearly visible: an active oil rig exploring for oil and gas less than a quarter mile away, a Southwest flight pulling in, and a massive 40 thousand square foot office and hangar with a big XCOR sign conspicuously displayed for all to see.

City leaders are trying to diversify the economy so it doesn’t continue to go with the booms and busts of the oil industry. To do that, they’re bringing in the space industry. “It’s supported by this community,” said J. Ross Lacy, a Midland City Council member and President of the Air and Space Port. He said residents are on board. (11/10)

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