November 23, 2016

Japan Developing Tiny Rocket for Tiny Satellites (Source: South China Morning Post)
Japan’s space agency said Tuesday it aims to launch the world’s smallest rocket for putting a satellite into earth orbit. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said the rocket will be the size of a telephone pole, and it showed to the media an ultra small satellite that the rocket will carry when launched from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, by the end of next March.

The “TRICOM1” satellite, developed by the University of Tokyo, measures 10cm by 10cm by 35cm - about the size of a loaf of bread - and weights about 3kg. It has two cameras, one on either side, to take pictures of the Earth.

The agency developed the three-stage compact rocket by renovating a two-stage rocket that is currently JAXA’s primary launch vehicle. The new rocket is around 10 meters long, about 50cm in diameter, weighs a mere 2.6tonnes, and can put into orbit a satellite weighing up to 4kg. (11/23)

Conservative PAC Targets Elon Musk, SpaceX (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX, has shaken up the space industry and has launched rockets from Florida’s Space Coast regularly in the past few years. But the company is now the target of a conservative Political Action Committee led by Laura Ingraham – who recently said she’s a possible pick for White House press secretary under Donald Trump.

Although Trump is not apparently associated with the PAC, called Citizens for the Republic, it has been re-energized during the 2016 presidential campaign. A few months ago, it started lobbing criticism at Musk because of government contracts and subsidies he’s received. “Stop Elon Musk from Failing Again,” is the name of the organization’s new website.

The site is compiling any negative news about Musk and his companies. One of its major sources of information is a May 2015 story by the Los Angeles Times, which reported that Musk’s other companies – electric car maker Tesla and Solar City – have benefited from almost $5 billion in government incentives and subsidies over the years. (11/22)

Lake of Frozen Water the Size of New Mexico Found on Mars (Source: The Register)
Settling on Mars may not be as difficult as first feared. NASA scientists have discovered a huge deposit of water ice just under the surface of the Red Planet. The ice has been found in the Utopia Planitia region of the planet, a large depression in the northern hemisphere formed by a massive impact early in the planet's history.

The ice patch, which is about the size of New Mexico, contains enough water to fill Lake Superior, according to measurements taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). "This deposit is probably more accessible than most water ice on Mars, because it is at a relatively low latitude and it lies in a flat, smooth area where landing a spacecraft would be easier than at some of the other areas with buried ice," said Jack Holt of the University of Texas. (11/22)

China Launches Data Relay Satellites (Source Xinhua)
China launched the fourth in a series of data relay satellites Tuesday. A Long March 3C lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 10:24 a.m. Eastern carrying the Tianlian 1-04 satellite. The satellite, which will operate from geostationary orbit, joins three others launched since 2008 to relay data from Chinese crewed spacecraft and from satellites in low Earth orbit. (11/22)

NASA Picks SpaceX to Launch Earth Science Satellite (Source: Space News)
NASA has selected SpaceX to launch an Earth science satellite in 2021. A Falcon 9 will launch the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT), a joint mission with the French space agency CNES to monitor global changes in bodies of water, from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The total cost of the mission to NASA is $112 million, which includes the SpaceX launch service and additional payload processing and related expenses.

The award is the third time NASA has awarded SpaceX a contract to launch a satellite, excluding its commercial cargo and crew work, after the Jason-3 satellite launched in January and the TESS astronomy mission scheduled for launch in late 2017. (11/22)

Bigelow's BEAM Module Performing Well After ISS Installation (Source:
An expandable module added to the International Space Station earlier this year is performing well. NASA said the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), installed on the station in May, has not experienced any problems, and the module appears to be better insulated than expected. BEAM is a prototype of expandable module technology being developed by Bigelow Aerospace for future use in commercial space stations, or as larger modules attached to the ISS. (11/22)

NASA Scientist: Cutting Earth Science Will Take Time (Source: WESH)
A NASA climate scientist says he's not overly concerned about potential cuts to the agency's Earth sciences work by the incoming Trump administration. Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said he had "some level of concern" about changes to the agency's climate science work in particular, but noted that the scale of government bureaucracy will make it difficult to implement immediate changes. (11/22)

Trump to Scrap 'Politicized Science' of NASA Climate Research (Source: The Guardian)
Donald Trump is poised to eliminate all climate change research conducted by NASA as part of a crackdown on “politicized science”, his senior adviser on issues relating to the space agency has said. NASA’s Earth science division is set to be stripped of funding in favor of exploration of deep space, with the president-elect having set a goal during the campaign to explore the entire solar system by the end of the century. (11/23)

Why We Should All be Astronauts (Source: BBC)
If you want to get a laugh out of a five-year-old, telling them that astronauts drink their own wee is bound to do the trick. It's one of those fun facts that fascinates people about life in space. Robyn Gatens, deputy division director for NASA's International Space Station (ISS) program, has seen plenty of negative reactions to the practice in her 30 years at the US space agency. "It's a mental thing, it sounds yucky," she says.

It is just one example of the many ways in which NASA exploits limited resources. And it's exactly the kind of practice that makes the space agency a role model for those on earth trying to eliminate waste by reusing and repurposing things. Nasa works with businesses on a lot of its research and has a Technology Transfer Program aimed at making sure its scientific know-how is applied on Earth as well as in space. "We're working across industries, not just traditional space companies," says Ms Gatens. (11/23)

NASA Reveals New 'Breakfast Bars' for Astronauts Aboard its Orion Capsule (Source: Daily Mail)
NASA scientists are working to create special deep-space food bars for astronauts on the Orion mission. The capsule has little room inside, and the crew will have to limit the amount of food and supplies they bring, along with the garbage they create, as they will be required to carry everything back to Earth when the mission ends.

According to the agency, there are no commercially available bars that would be suitable for this setting, and the food scientists are working to develop high-calorie products that will taste good and help the astronauts keep a healthy weight. Food scientists have created a variety of food bars, including banana nut, orange cranberry, ginger vanilla, and a BBQ nut bar – each roughly 700-800 calories. (11/22)

Nelson Ready to Support Trump-Backed NASA Exploration (Source: Business Insider)
Separately, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, said he supported the Trump campaign's plans for space exploration, including public-private partnerships. "I can tell you as long as I am there and breathing, the NASA space program is going to be protected," he said. (11/22)

Canada Plans New Space Strategy (Source: SpaceRef Canada)
The Canadian government plans to release a new space strategy by next June. In a recent speech at the 2016 Canadian Aerospace Summit, Navdeep Bains, the minister of innovation, science and economic development, said an updated space strategy is in development that will support the government's broader efforts at economic growth. Bains said the government is also working to "revitalize" a Space Advisory Board, selecting new members who will contribute to the development of the space strategy. (11/22)

President Obama Honors Female Apollo Engineer (Source: CollectSpace)
The woman who led the development of the flight software for the Apollo program received the Presidential Medal of Freedom Tuesday. Margaret Hamilton led the software engineering division of what is now Draper Lab, which developed the software used by the Apollo command and lunar modules. Among the other people receiving the medal Tuesday was actor Tom Hanks, who portrayed astronaut Jim Lovell in the 1995 film Apollo 13. (11/22)

Court Gives New Life to DynCorp Trade Secrets Case (Source: Law360)
The Eleventh Circuit revived allegations Monday that a unit of security contractor AAR Corp. stole information from rival DynCorp to gain an edge in its bid for a multibillion-dollar State Department contract, finding a lower court erred in deciding DynCorp failed to identify a claim. Editor's Note: DynCorp and AAR both operate on Florida's Space Coast, including support to the State Department drug interdiction aviation program. (11/22)

Russia Wants Help to Send Cosmonauts to Mars in the 2040s (Source: Inverse)
Russian scientists have announced their desire for an international partnership that would have cosmonauts (Russian astronauts) on Mars within 30 years. On Tuesday, Dr. Igor Mitrofanov, Head of the Space Gamma-Spectroscopy Laboratory of Russia’s Space Research Institute, said that a collaborative effort was the best path forward, considering the enormous financial and technological demands of a manned mission to Mars. (11/22)

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