November 12, 2016

Should We Be Worried About SpaceX's Plans to Fuel Rockets with Astronauts Aboard? (Source: Popular Science)
SpaceX's first crewed missions aren't scheduled for takeoff until late 2017 or 2018, and the company says it is working with NASA to refine its plans for the boarding procedure. So it's possible SpaceX will change its plans and board the astronauts after fueling has completed.

The outcome may depend, at least in part, on what fixes the company makes to prevent the oxygen solidification that caused the September explosion—those plans haven't been revealed to the public yet. Ideally, the company would use the same procedure for loading both crewed capsules and uncrewed payloads—consistency is important in rocket science. So if they change the boarding procedure for crewed missions, they would want to change it for all missions. (11/11)

DOD Encourages Allied Nations to Join Unlimited-Use Iridium Program (Source: Space News)
The agency providing U.S. government access to Iridium’s global constellation of mobile communications satellites urged other nations to join the program to take advantage of its fixed-price, unlimited-access feature. Clare Grason, who manages the Enhanced Mobile Satellite Services (EMSS) program at the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency, said allied nations are welcome to join the other “Five Eyes” nations — Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand

DISA, which is Iridium Communications’ biggest customer, is midway through a five-year, $400 million contract providing unlimited access to Iridium for U.S. government agencies that in turn pay DISA for the service. Under the contract, all U.S. government communications are routed through the government-operated Iridium gateway in Hawaii. None of the traffic is routed through Iridium’s commercial gateway in Arizona or to the recently inaugurated gateway in Russia. (11/11)

Drones Invade New Mexico Spaceport (Source: KRQE)
The angry buzz of hordes of zipping drones is echoing across the desert in southern New Mexico. Spaceport America is hosting its first annual Drone Summit, with 200 participants entered in races, aerial film making challenges and days of professional drone seminars.

“It’s all about bringing people from all walks of life to New Mexico and to the Spaceport,” said Tammara Anderton, Spaceport America vice-president of business development. Anderton said the drone summit is now one of four annual events designed to give folks other than rocket scientists and astronauts the chance to experience the unique facility. (11/11)

New Mars TV Show Is Basically A Giant Elon Musk Commercial (Source: Daily Caller)
The Daily Caller News Foundation watched an advanced screening of “Mars,” National Geographic’s miniseries-style show Thursday. The series is set in 2033, and follows the first human mission to Mars, while frequently flashing back to the present to explain how the technology used in 2033 is being developed.

“Mars” may be an entertaining series, but it’s basically a commercial for SpaceX, Musk’s company. At least half the first episode’s “flash-backs” prominently feature Musk himself or SpaceX employees, talking about their company. (11/11)

A Concerted Effort to Brand South Australia as the Space State (Source: The Advertiser)
The era of spending the equivalent of a medium-sized country’s GDP to send men to the moon has given way to an age of shoebox-sized cube satellites and space tourism. Space is more accessible than ever, which is why the State Government is making a concerted effort to brand South Australia as the space state.

The not-so-pithily named Space Innovation and Growth Strategy (South Australia) Action Plan is an outline for attracting space-based industries and innovators to SA in an attempt to amass a skills base and generate employment opportunities. The SA space push is a plan which has the backing of a uniquely-qualified person – the only South Australian to have ever left our planet, Dr Andy Thomas. (11/12)

From Tucson, Vector Space Aims for Macro Effect on Aerospace Industry (Source: Inside Tucson Business)
Tucson extended its reach towards the stars in a new agreement with Vector Space Systems to build a manufacturing facility and worldwide headquarters at the Pima County Aerospace, Defense and Technology Research and Business Park. Pima County and Vector Space announced the negotiations for the contract at the Arizona Technology Council Expo on Thursday, Oct. 13.

Vector is the second company to lease portions of the aerospace park after the county struck a deal with World View in January. “We’ve always been known as an aerospace community, a defense community,” said Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. “These two firms really add space as a dimension. It’s an emerging economic frontier.”

Vector Space is a microsatellite launch company that aims to shake up the aerospace industry with rockets that are smaller and cheaper to launch than conventional space rockets, making space a more accessible destination for firms around the world. Vector Space will lease 17 acres of the park, just south of Tucson International Airport and the Raytheon Missile Systems site, over a 15- to 25-year period for which the aerospace company will pay a standard market rate for the land. (11/10)

China's Second Launch of the Week Puts Yunhai-1 Into Orbit (Source: GB Times)
China carried out its second space mission of the week early on Saturday, sending the Yunhai-1 weather satellite into orbit on a Long March 2D rocket launched from the Gobi Desert. Developed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST), Yunhai-1 is the first of a constellation of satellites that will be used for atmospheric, marine and space environment observation, disaster prevention and mitigation and scientific experiments. (11/12)

Tyvak Facilitates First NRO Cubesat Mission with Atlas Launch (Source: Tyvak)
Seven National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) CubeSats launched aboard aUnited Launch Alliance (ULA) rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) as an auxiliary payload on the DigitalGlobe Inc. WorldView-4 mission. Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems Inc. partnered with California Polytechnic (Cal Poly), ULA, LockheedMartin and DigitalGlobe to secure this unique rideshare opportunity – the first of its kind for the NRO. (11/11)

The Retail Industry Will Be in Space by 2030 (Source: Fashionista)
Fashion companies are already trying to get ahead of the curve and asking, "Do we need to start designing for this [space] consumer?" She referenced Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto, who, in January, announced a collaboration with Adidas and Virgin Galactic to design and subsequently produce the line of clothing that will be worn on Virgin's commercial spaceflight operations. Of the product line, Bell said: "It's weightless; it's high-tech; the material is virtually indestructible."

As the space tourism market launches and expands by the year 2030, shoppers will need clothes, accessories and beauty products that can travel with them beyond Earth. A second trend that remains top of mind for WGSN is smart clothing, which, by 2030, will have made the transition from wearable accessories (such as watches and headsets) to fabrics, which will be hardwired to communicate through touch. In May, Google's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) revealed Project Jacquard, which has embedded its technology in new conductive yarns which are then placed in touch- and gesture-sensitive areas. (11/11)

Human Life ‘Sustainable on Mars in 300 Years’ (Source: E&T)
If you have an unlimited amount of money and put up the solar mirrors as soon as you have people on Mars, you can have running water on Mars and a much warmer planet within as little as a few decades. But since we are unlikely to have the money, we are going to do this gradually over a period of time. I think that the process of terraforming of Mars will probably take place over 100 to 300 years. Click here. (11/11)

More Satellites Headed Into Space from Florida Next Month (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
A group of satellites set to launch from Florida next month will work in tandem to measure wind speeds inside hurricanes and cyclones in real time. “This is a first-of-its-kind mission,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in a news release. The new constellation “will do what a single craft can’t in terms of measuring surface wind speeds” inside violent storms.

It’s another effort to improve the accuracy of weather forecasts, following closely on the heels of the high-profile GOES-R launch, set for Nov. 19. Known as the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System, or CYGNSS, the satellites will use GPS technology to measure surface activity on the oceans. CYGNSS will travel into space aboard an Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rocket, which will be carried into low earth orbit after hitching a ride on a Stargazer aircraft. (11/11)

Trump’s Defense Priorities Should Give Military Space a Boost — Provided Congress Goes Along (Source: Space News)
U.S. defense stocks rode Donald Trump’s unexpected victory to solid gains, a sign Wall Street thinks the president-elect will make good on his campaign promise to boost defense spending. Analysts say some of that increase, presumably, would find its way into military space programs. While Trump did not say much about space on the campaign trail, his space policy advisers have flagged Chinese and Russian “military-focused space initiatives” as cause for concern.

Former U.S. congressman Robert Walker and Peter Navarro, a professor at the University of California-Irvine, promised Trump would increase military space spending to “reduce our current vulnerabilities and assure that our military commands have the space tools they need.” Trump in 2013 endorsed mandatory across-the-board spending cuts that took effect that year as a way to rein in government spending. The cuts, known as sequestration, remain in effect until 2021 unless repealed by Congress.

Trump has since said the defense cuts have gone too far and — supported by Republican hawks in Congress — is looking to pour renewed resources into the Pentagon. In a September campaign speech in Philadelphia, Trump blamed President Barack Obama for “oversee[ing] deep cuts in our military, which only invite more aggression” from U.S. adversaries. (11/11)

Air Force Slowly Reacting to Reusable Rockets, Cheap Launch (Source: Satellite Today)
Despite a vision from top Air Force officers that reusable rockets can play roles in future military missions, a conservative safety culture on launch ranges and institutional bureaucracy are slowing the service on its path to embracing the technology and, accordingly, low cost launch, when it is ready in four to five years.

DARPA is developing a program with a goal of launching 10 times in 10 days to demonstrate aircraft-like operability, cost efficiency and reliability. Called XS-1, this program will be capable of deploying a small expendable upper stage to launch a 3,000 pound spacecraft to earth orbit at a cost of $5 million, which the agency calls 10 times less than today’s launch systems. DARPA plans to have XS-1 flight tests by 2020. (11/11)

Climate Change is Real, Just Ask the Pentagon (Source: LA Times)
“We see the rising sea levels and flooding events,” said Capt. Dean VanderLey, who oversees Navy infrastructure in the mid-Atlantic region. “We have a responsibility to prepare for the future. We don’t have the luxury of just burying our heads in the sand.”

President-elect Donald Trump has described global warming as a hoax, and Republicans in Congress who reject science showing that greenhouse gases have warmed the planet have blocked funding meant to help the Pentagon assess the damage and plan for the future.

The House voted in June to bar the Defense Department from spending money to evaluate how climate change would affect military training, combat, weapons purchases and other needs. “When we distract our military with a radical climate change agenda, we detract from their main purpose of defending America from enemies” like Islamic State, said Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), sponsor of the measure. (11/11)

Birdenstine Considered for Top NASA Job (Source: Washington Post)
Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), a former Navy pilot who is one of Congress’s leading space exploration advocates, has had informal conversations with the Trump campaign about serving as NASA administrator or secretary of the Air Force, according to an official close to the congressman who is not authorized to speak publicly. (11/11)

Atlas V Rocks Vandenberg, Delivering WorldView-4 Satellite to Orbit (Source: America Space)
After almost two months of delays, caused by raging wildland fires which swept across vast areas of Vandenberg’s North and South Base, a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket successfully roared away from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-3E at 10:30 a.m. PST (1:30 p.m. EST) on Friday, 11 November. Liftoff came precisely on the opening of today’s 15-minute “window”.

The workhorse Atlas—flying in its “barebones” 401 configuration, equipped with a 13-foot-diameter (4-meter) Large Payload Fairing (LPF), no strap-on boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage—delivered DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-4 imaging satellite into orbit. The satellite will join its four siblings in providing unrivaled commercial views of Earth at resolutions as fine as 10 inches (25 cm) for panchromatic and 3.3 feet (1 meter) for multispectral. This offers an imaging capability previously unobtainable outside the military. (11/11)

Boeing Defense & Space Chief to Retire (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Boeing said the president of its defense unit’s development group will retire and be replaced by Patrick Goggin, who manages the engineers who support the company’s 7-series passenger planes. Mr. Goggin, a 29-year veteran with Boeing, is slated to take on the new post in December, succeeding James O’Neill, who intends to retire next year. (11/11)

Chunks of (Likely) Chinese Rocket Fall on Myanmar (Source: Guardian)
A large metal cylinder thought to be part of a Chinese rocket has crashed in a jade mining area in Myanmar. State media published images of the 4.5m-long (15ft) drum resting in mud on property owned by a mining company in Hpakank, in the northern state of Kachin. Chinese writing was found on a smaller piece of debris that fell through the roof of a nearby house at the same time. No one was hurt. (11/11)

Here’s How Trump’s Presidency Could be Good News for Science (Source: New Scientist)
For those who value science, there is little consolation in seeing Donald Trump occupy the White House. But New Scientist has scouted around, and found a few areas where things might continue as usual or even improve: space exploration, infrastructure, and certain kinds of drugs. But all of those come with big caveats. Click here. (11/11)

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