December 17, 2016

Budget Hawk Picked for OMB Chief (Source: Washington Post)
President-elect Donald Trump has named Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) as his director of the Office of Management and Budget, signaling his intent to slash spending and address the deficit as president. Mulvaney, 49, was elected to Congress in 2010 in the wave that brought a cohort of younger, staunchly conservative members into the House.

He has been an advocate for spending cuts, often taking on his own party to push for more aggressive curbs to government spending. He played a key role in the 2011 showdown between President Obama and House Republicans that ended in the passage of strict budget caps. Mulvaney is also an advocate of a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.

Trump has said that stronger growth would mean his tax proposal would not contribute to the national debt, and he has vowed not to cut expensive but popular entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. But experts have been skeptical of those claims, and Mulvaney would be responsible for reconciling the numbers. Trump also has announced plans for a massive infrastructure investment and increased defense spending. (12/16)

Swiss Space Systems Declared Bankrupt (Source: Bay Today)
Swiss Space Systems (S3), a space technology firm whose CEO was violently attacked earlier this year, has been declared bankrupt by a court in Switzerland. S3, based in Payerne, aims to make space more accessible by creating low-cost, reusable satellite launchers, a development not welcomed by all in the industry. It also intended to offer zero-gravity flights to the general public in 2017.

But lately the company has been beset by financial difficulties, and on Wednesday the civil court of Broye and North Vaud declared it bankrupt, reported news agency ATS. The company has ten days to appeal the decision. The news comes at the end of a difficult year for S3.

In August its founder and CEO, Pascal Jaussi, was left seriously injured after being beaten up and set on fire by two attackers in a forest. The media reported at the time that Jaussi was forced to drive his car into a forest, where he was doused in petrol and set on fire. He managed to get himself out of the vehicle and call a friend, who alerted emergency services. The investigation is ongoing. (12/16)

KSC Testbed Improves Cryogenic Fueling Efficiency (Source: Parabolic Arc)
When NASA saved a shuttle-era storage facility at KSC from demolition five years ago, engineers already had future in mind for what to do with the building. Some three years later, NASA transformed the hangar and installed test equipment at an adjacent field for testing a new ground operations demo unit for liquid hydrogen. The testing has come to a successful conclusion after 1.5 years.

The system is comprised of a 33,000 gallon liquid hydrogen storage tank recycled from the Titan Centaur program, with an internal cold heat exchanger supplied from a cryogenic refrigerator. The refrigerator, chiller and associated controls are housed in a metal storage container for insulation and to protect them from the corrosive sand and salt environment.

The system was designed, installed and tested by a team of civil servants and contractors from the center’s Cryogenic Test Laboratory. Testing was done in three phases over 18 months between April 2015 and September 2016. The system was put through its paces using an increasing amount of stored hydrogen – 30, 60 and 90 percent, respectively. The system was tested for three main objectives: zero boil-off, liquefaction and propellant densification. (12/17)

Vector Space Gets OK to Develop Arizona Manufacturing Facility (Source: Vector Space)
Vector Space Systems said Thursday it has won approval to develop a manufacturing facility in Tucson, Arizona. The company said that county supervisors approved a 25-year lease of land in a business park near the Tucson airport, and the company planned to start construction on the site in the spring. The company, which is developing a small launch vehicle, also said it successfully test-fired a 5,000-lbf. engine that will be used on its vehicle; that engine features a 3D-printed injector developed in cooperation with NASA. (12/16)

Japan's iSpace Technologies Plans Lunar Resource Development (Source: Wall Street Journal)
A Japanese company is getting into the space resources business. Tokyo-based ispace technologies Inc. announced Friday that it has signed an agreement with the Japanese space agency JAXA to work on a roadmap for lunar resource development. Ispace also handles business operations for Team Hakuto, a competitor in the Google Lunar X Prize. (12/16)

NASA Ranked Tops for Federal Employment (Source: Government Executive)
For the fifth year in a row, NASA is ranked as the best place to work in the federal government. The agency came out on top among large agencies, well ahead of second-place Commerce Department in the numerical scoring developed by Partnership for Public Service. NASA's score in the survey, 78.6, was an improvement on the 76.1 it received in the 2015 survey. (12/15)

Judge Rules in Favor of Buyer in Questionable Sale of Lunar Sample Bag (Source: CollectSpace)
NASA is left not holding the bag after a judge ruled against the government in a memorabilia case. The government sought to take possession of an Apollo 11 lunar sample bag that it mistakenly sold for $995 at auction in 2015, part of property seized by U.S. Marshals from former museum curator Max Ary. A mix-up in paperwork led the marshals to believe the sample bag belonged to Ary rather than being government property. A U.S. District Court judge ruled that the woman who bought the bag was "a good faith purchaser, in a sale conducted according to law," and thus did nothing wrong that would merit returning the bag to NASA. (12/15)

Colorado's Lockheed Working on Mars Base Camp Concept (Source: 9News Colorado)
It's a vision that could begin circling Mars by the year 2028 with humans onboard. It's called the Mars Base Camp – a concept from Colorado's Lockheed Martin Space Systems. "The idea is to get a lot of science, understanding of Mars and prepared for a human landing thereafter," said Rob Chambers, Lockheed Martin’s Orion Production Strategy Lead.

Similar to the way the International Space Station which orbits the Earth, the Mars Base Camp would circle the red planet by the end of the next decade. "For those of us that live in Colorado, the concept of a base camp makes a lot of sense, in the sense of that's where you depart from to ultimately go to the peak of the mountain or, in this case, down to the surface of Mars," Chambers said. (12/15)

California’s Hypothetical Plan to Start a Space Agency Is Legal and Feasible (Source: Motherboard)
The legal issues will of course depend on the specifics of California’s program—if the state pursued a public-private partnership, it could simply buy data from a commercial satellite company that secures launch permits from the federal government. But let’s presume for a moment that California wants to start its own honest-to-goodness space agency, or, at the very least, wants to handle the launch and monitoring of its satellites. There are two main questions: Would such a plan be feasible? And can the state legally do so?

Though no state has a robust satellite operations program, several states do have space authorities that are mainly tasked with incentivizing and promoting commercial space activity within their respective states. Space Florida, the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority, and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority are all currently operational. The California Space Authority operated between 1996 and 2011, when it was shut down.

There are many models for how a California Space Agency could potentially work, and if the state were to seriously pursue this goal, it could partner with or offer tax incentives to many aerospace companies that are headquartered or have large presences in the state. Finally, it’s worth noting that some states do have satellites in space, in a way. Several public universities, which fall under the purview of state governments, have launched research satellites over the years. (12/15)

Space Florida Seeks Repeat of State Appropriation for 2017 (Source: SPACErePORT)
Space Florida is requesting $19.5 million from the state during the upcoming Legislative Session, the same level of funding provided in 2016. $10 million will be used for business development and day-to-day operations. $7 million will be used as a financing fund for aerospace recruitment/expansion projects. $1.5 million will be used for space tourism marketing. $1 million will be used for the Florida/Israel joint grant program.

Aerospace industry leaders will gather in Tallahassee to promote a space-focused legislative agenda (including funding for Space Florida) during the state's annual Florida Space Day on March 8. (12/16)

A Promising Spot for Life on Mars (Source: Space Daily)
As NASA's Curiosity rover makes its way up the central peak of Gale Crater, it has been gathering evidence from ancient lake beds and long ago groundwater environments that are promising to life.

Scientists in charge of the mission gave an update of their findings on Tuesday, saying the landing site at Gale Crater had exceeded their expectations. They said they have "hit a jackpot" of exposed mineral layers as the rover moves up Mount Sharp, offering a glimpse into the geologic history of the site and how global environmental conditions might have changed on Mars over the course of millions of years. (12/16)

How on Earth Does NASA Choose a Landing Site on Mars? (Source: Space Daily)
Getting to the surface of Mars takes years of planning, engineering and science work, a successful launch, and a months-long journey of millions of miles. You only get one opportunity to touch down at a site on Mars, so it's critical to get it right. "You can't say, 'here are ten different sites, let's go to them,'" said Michael Meyer, the lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Each mission-it's one shot. You definitely want to pick the right one." Click here. (12/16)

Seven Ways Astronauts Improve Sleep May Help You Snooze Better on Earth (Source: Space Daily)
The hazards of lost sleep can range from on-the-job errors to chronic disease. People all around the world experience disruptions in circadian rhythm, or the body's natural regulator for sleep and wake cycles based on a 24-hour schedule, every day. This instinctual process can be disrupted by abnormal work schedules, extensive traveling between time zones, and by daily life for International Space Station crew members, who could experience 16 sunrises a day.

Circadian misalignment and sleep deficiency occur during both short- and long-duration spaceflight, and can lead to significant, fatigue-induced errors and long-term sleep loss. In addition to spaceflight, employees working in Mission Control, where shift work and abnormal hours are common, often experience the effects of circadian misalignment.

Chronic sleep deprivation and circadian desynchronization are associated with health complications such as metabolic disorders, cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal diseases and some types of cancers. NASA's flight surgeons and scientists have devised tools for crew members and Mission Control employees to help promote a more natural circadian rhythm in space and during shift work back on Earth. Here are seven ways NASA addresses circadian rhythm disruption. (12/16)

FAA Chief Hopes to Stay Put in Trump Administration (Source: Wall Street Journal)
FAA chief Michael Huerta on Friday issued the strongest signal yet that he seeks Trump administration endorsement of his leadership and bent for industry-friendly regulation, aiming to stay through the end of his statutory term in 2018. Michael Huerta also announced the final version of long-awaited rules overhauling government certification of new private aircraft. (12/16)

Vector Space Has Job Creation Requirement in Factory Deal (Source: KVOA)
Vector Space Systems is planning to make its mark in Arizona's aerospace community with a rocket factory in Tucson. The company has proposed a 25-year lease to the Pima County Board of Supervisors, in which they would pay $96,000 a year in rent. Vector Space would need a factory and headquarters center no smaller than 60,000 square feet.

According to the deal, the company must hire 200 full-time employees within four years of the lease start date. Those employees would earn an average salary of $75,000 a year with full benefits. Vector estimates the plan will bring nearly $300 million to the local economy over the next five years. The Pima County Board of Supervisors will decide on the terms of the deal. The factory is set to break ground in Spring 2017. (12/16)

Please take us to Mars, President Trump (Source: The Week)
The most important thing Donald Trump can do for the United States is bigger than making America great again. It's something far more ambitious and historic, something that benefits not just Americans, but the entire human race. Donald Trump can make Earth great again. And he can do it by taking us to Mars.

Yes, we have many pressing problems at home and around the world. But the most sweeping way to solve them is for Trump to lead us to Mars. In fact, it is because of those pressing needs that humanity must begin to colonize the red planet. Click here. (12/15)

IBM's Watson Turns Its Computer Brain to NASA Research (Source:
IBM's question-answering whiz, the Watson computer system, famously beat former winners on Jeopardy in 2011 — and now it's digging into aerospace research and data to help NASA answer questions on the frontier of spaceflight science and make crucial decisions in the moment during air travel.

More than 60 years after the first IBM computing machines showed up in the halls of NASA's Langley Research Center, new work at Langley will use IBM tech to help researchers sort through the huge volumes of data that is generated by aerospace research. (12/15)

Planets, Planets Everywhere (Source: The World in 2017)
In December a successor to Kepler, called TESS (for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite), will be launched into orbit. It is designed to survey the entire sky, looking for the sorts of exoplanets that are of most interest to humans—ones that are small (like Earth), rocky (like Earth) and relatively close by.

Over its planned two-year life TESS will scan hundreds of thousands of nearby stars, looking for the telltale dips in their brightness as planets cross them (as seen from Earth). Indeed, Kepler has gathered enough statistical information about how common planets are in the galaxy for astronomers to make a reasonable guess of how many Earth-like planets TESS should find.

Assuming Earth’s galactic neighborhood is average, the new satellite should spot about 3,000 planets in total. About 500 of those should have radii up to twice that of Earth’s; of those, perhaps a few dozen will orbit in the “habitable zone”, where liquid water could exist on their surfaces. (12/15)

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