November 27, 2016

NASA May Upend Space Travel with Experimental Propulsion Tech (Source: Newsweek)
NASA’s Sonny White and his collaborators have published experimental confirmation that the so-called EM drive produces thrust. If this technology fulfills its promise, it will transform public and private space exploration and may have even broader implications for terrestrial power and energy.

Their paper explains why this work is important with typically understated academic language: “For missions with very large delta-v requirements, having a propellant consumption rate of zero could offset the higher power requirements.” Let me say it another way for everyone else: wouldn’t it be great to travel in space as fast as you want without even using fuel?

The what-ifs that these questions inspire in us are why we find technology at the edge of science fiction so appealing. I suspect that they also inspire the engineers at Eagleworks. Narratives about our future break us free from the tyranny of everyday life and give us permission to imagine a better future for ourselves and the world, if only briefly. That’s part of the appeal of Star Trek and other optimistic takes on the future. (11/26)

New Spaceport America CEO Discusses Challenges, Opportunities (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
Daniel Hicks, just weeks into his tenure as the new chief executive officer of Spaceport America, is getting to know the lay of the land while setting his sights on space exploration. The 57-year-old Las Cruces native replaced Christine Anderson in July as the head of the facility in southern Sierra County, north of Las Cruces, built at a taxpayer-funded expense of roughly $218.5 million. Click here. (11/26)

A Flurry of Florida Launches in December (Source: Florida Today)
At least three missions, each flown by different rockets, are scheduled to launch from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport during a 10-day period next month that could close out the 2016 launch manifest. Here’s what’s coming: On Dec. 7 ULA plans to launch its fourth Delta IV rocket and 11th mission overall this year, sending the Air Force’s eighth Wideband Global Satcom communications satellite into orbit.

On Dec. 12, Orbital ATK brings its air-launched Pegasus rocket to Cape Canaveral for a rare flight. A carrier aircraft will take off first thing in the morning to deploy a rocket carrying eight small satellites forming NASA's CYGNSS science mission, which will study hurricanes. On Dec. 16, ULA’s final mission of the year will see an Atlas V launch the EchoStar-19 commercial communications satellite in the early afternoon. The lineup doesn’t yet include a return to flight by SpaceX, which has said it hopes to launch a Falcon 9 rocket before the end of the year. (11/26)

Russia to Place Outer Space Control Complexes in Altai, Far East, Buryatia and Crimea (Source: Tass)
Novel complexes of the Russian system of outer space control will be placed in the Altai Mountains, in the Far East of Russia, in the East Siberian region of Buryatia and in Crimea, Col Andrei Ivashina, a deputy chief of the space segment of the Russian Aerospace Force in charge of spaceflight testing said on Saturday.

"A chain of novel complexes of the system of outer space control will be installed in Russia in the next few years," he said. "This will be a chain of next-generation specialized radio-electronic surveillance complexes," he said. "Apart from the Altai, complexes of this kind will be installed in other parts of Russia in the Far East, in (the East-Siberian region of) Buryatia and in Crimea." (11/26)

Spire Deploys Four Satellites From Cygnus (Source: Space News)
An Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo spacecraft deployed four small satellites for Spire Global Nov. 25, the first time a cargo vessel deployed satellites above the orbit of the International Space Station. The four Lemur-2 satellites were released from the Cygnus vehicle after it raised its orbit to an altitude of 500 kilometers. The Cygnus, which departed the ISS Nov. 21, raised its orbit for the satellite deployment prior to a planned reentry Nov. 27. (11/26)

ExoMars Space Program Needs an Extra €400 Million (Source: Japan Times)
Barely a month after its expensive test lander crashed into Mars, the European Space Agency asked member nations Friday to cough up an extra €400 million ($425 million) to complete the ExoMars exploration of the red planet. The two-part mission saw a spacecraft successfully placed into orbit in mid-October, but a companion lander designed to pave the way for a mobile-lab rover in 2020 smashed into the planet’s surface. The aim of ExoMars is to seek evidence of life, past or present. (11/27)

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