November 18, 2016

Wallops Gets More Room to Fly Experimental Aircraft (Source: DelMarVaNow)
NASA is getting a larger no-fly zone around Wallops Flight Facility for when it conducts experimental flights that its staff believes could pose a threat to other aircraft. The FAA has approved the space agency's request to double the size of its restricted airspace. The Oct. 31 decision includes some concessions to local pilots, including a provision that pilots must be notified at least 12 hours in advance of its activation.

"We’re very pleased with the FAA’s final decision," officials at the facility said in a statement, "and we look forward to working with the local aviation community as we implement the procedures for operating in the airspace." The measure's advocates have said the expansion is necessary to support Virginia's growing aerospace industry. (11/15)

Allies the Key to Future U.S. Space Policy, Loverro Says (Source: Space News)
The way forward in space requires the U.S. government to partner closely with both foreign and commercial allies, the Pentagon’s top space official said Nov. 15. “We always viewed all conflict as international, combined arms operations with our allies, but we had never done it in space,” said Doug Loverro, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy, at a lunch here hosted by the Maryland Space Business Roundtable.

The U.S. government had always viewed itself as having a monopoly on space, with only Russia to worry about challenging its superiority in orbit, Loverro said, adding that since the fall of the Soviet Union, many have viewed space as a conflict-free sanctuary. Now the Defense Department is confronted with a much more contested space environment with hundreds of participants both national and commercial. Loverro said many in the Pentagon had a “hard time admitting that we were actually going to have to plan for a day when war might extend into space.” (11/17)

Student Fascinated with Comets Devises Strategy for Defending Earth From Impact (Source:
Growing up in the California desert, Qicheng Zhang developed an early appreciation for stars and the universal expanse beyond the sky. But his biggest space curiosity by far was with comets. In high school, Zhang started writing software as a hobby and, naturally, turned to the sky for inspiration. His comet knowledge hit new heights through his development of a planetarium program, which required detailed information about a comet's location, direction and brightness.

Zhang has received a USRA scholarship. USRA awards just five scholarships annually to undergraduate students who tackle challenging scientific questions in the areas of space research and exploration, particularly astrophysics and astronomy, and create technologies and solutions that will positively impact people's lives. Zhang's award-winning work examines the potential use of directed energy for comet deflection. He is adapting and applying in a new way technology developed at UCSB by Lubin and his group for planetary defense against asteroids, and for relativistic spacecraft propulsion for interstellar flight.

The undergraduate scholar demonstrated that a comet could be manipulated to mitigate a potential impact with Earth by heating it with a high-powered laser array. "A laser is such a narrow beam that you can produce more power on the target than the sun provides, allowing an effective defense against comet strikes," explained Lubin. (11/17)

Will Black People Also be Excluded from Mars? (Source: Open Democracy)
In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s shock election as President of the United States, social media channels have been buzzing with disillusioned calls to escape to Canada or even Mars. Earlier in 2016, President Barack Obama had already promised a giant leap to the Red Planet, adding further momentum to technology entrepreneur Elon Musk’s futuristic prospect of colonization.

But as the writer Martin Robbins has argued, “space is white,” and it’s a myth to believe that “when we go into space, we will all magically become nice.” Now more than ever we need to reflect on a cultural history of space exclusion that may come to define “whose version of humanity is being targeted for saving”, as D N Lee so eloquently worries. (11/17)

Houston Super Bowl Host Committee Reveals Space-Themed Attraction for Fan Festival (Source: Houston Business Journal)
The Houston Super Bowl Host Committee on Nov. 16 revealed Future Flight, the "wow factor" attraction for the 2017 Super Bowl Live fan festival held in downtown Houston prior to the big game. Future Flight was unveiled at the 2016 Space Commerce Conference and Exposition — or SpaceCom — at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. It incorporates a virtual reality experience and hands-on space exhibits focused on the journey to Mars and more. (11/16)

Criminal Case Opened Over Embezzling at Russia’s Vostochny Spaceport (Source: Tass)
Russia’s Investigative Committee has launched a criminal investigation into the embezzlement of over $1 million allocated for constructing an administrative complex at the Vostochny spaceport, IC official spokesperson Svetlana Petrenko told TASS. The criminal case into fraud has been opened against Director General of the MIKOS company Sergey Ostrovsky, Petrenko said.

Some 143 million rubles were allocated in 2013 for the construction of the complex that includes a hotel, an engineering building and a foodservice center. The works were implemented by the spaceport’s general designer Ipromashprom and the MIKOS company was a subcontractor. (11/17)

Top French Chefs' Food Bound for Space Station (Source: 9News)
A French astronaut will join Russian and US counterparts blasting off Friday for the International Space Station, taking some Michelin-starred cuisine along to help celebrate in gastronomic style while in Earth's orbit. French space rookie Thomas Pesquet, 38, will lift off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with veteran US and Russian colleagues Peggy Whitson and Oleg Novitsky, for a six-month mission to the ISS. (11/17)

Russia, US Discuss Plans for Two International Stations on Moon’s Orbit (Source: Tass)
Russia, US and other partners in the International Space Station project are discussing plans for creating two manned stations orbiting the Moon, the executive director of the Roscosmos corporation for manned space programs, Sergey Krikalyov, has said. "International groups are considering several options of creating near-Moon infrastructure- in a high elliptical orbit and in a low orbit about 100 kilometers above the Moon’s surface," he said. One may be used to send space probes into deep space, and the other, for missions on the Moon’s surface. (11/17)

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