December 19, 2016

OneWeb Secures $1.2 Billion in Financing (Source: OneWeb)
OneWeb has secured $1.2 billion in funded capital from SoftBank and existing investors, of which $1 billion will come from SoftBank. “SoftBank has a long history of investing in disruptive, foundational technologies that promise to help us realize the future sooner. OneWeb is a tremendously exciting company poised to transform internet access around the world from their manufacturing facility in Florida”

The $1.2 billion fundraising round announced today will support OneWeb’s revolutionary technological development and the construction of the world’s first and only high volume satellite production facility. The new facility, based in Exploration Park, Florida will be capable of producing 15 satellites per week at a fraction of the cost of what any satellite manufacturing facility in the world can produce today, and expediting construction, launch and operations of its communications network.

The investment is expected to create nearly 3,000 new engineering, manufacturing and supporting jobs in the U.S. over the next four years. The SoftBank-led investment will also support development to enable global access to affordable high-speed internet services for everyone, including every unconnected school in the world by 2022, as well as using OneWeb’s leading technology for growing global markets including consumer broadband, connected cars, cellular backhaul and the Internet of Things. OneWeb will begin production at the new manufacturing facility in Exploration Park, Florida, beginning in 2018. (12/19)

Georgia Has the 'Right Stuff' for Space (Source: Newnan Times-Herald)
States like Florida, Alabama and Texas prospered in the first “Space Race” due the good fortune of powerful delegations in Washington, D.C. who steered NASA contracts their way. Fortunately, the new Commercial Space Race is driven by competition and free market principles, and as the best state to do business, Georgia has more to offer than any other space state.

We have the chance to write a new chapter in the ongoing saga of this great American tradition. That is why the Georgia Space Flight Act is so important. This policy will give Georgia the chance it needs to compete in the new Space Race. Georgia must show the space industry that we are open for business.

In the upcoming 2017 legislation session, I will be working diligently to pass common-sense legislation that would provide Georgia with the necessary tools to compete for commercial space jobs. Spaceport Camden is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we cannot squander it. John Glenn had the courage to ride atop a modified Atlas missile to become the first American to orbit the earth; the Georgia General Assembly ought to be able to find the courage to pass simple legislation to encourage spaceflight in Georgia. (12/19)

Full Go-Ahead for Building ExoMars 2020 (Source: Space Daily)
The first ExoMars mission arrived at the Red Planet in October and now the second mission has been confirmed to complete its construction for a 2020 launch. ESA and Thales Alenia Space signed a contract that secures the completion of the European elements of the next mission. The main objective of the ExoMars program is to address one of the most outstanding scientific questions of our time: is there, or has there ever been, life on Mars?

The Trace Gas Orbiter will soon be exploring this question from orbit: it will take a detailed inventory of trace gases, such as methane, that might be linked to biological or geological processes. The first test of the orbiter's science instruments was recently completed. It will also act as a communications relay for various craft - in particular for 2020's rover and surface platform. (12/19)

SpaceX Lobbies FCC For Spectrum Resources (Source: Law360)
SpaceX on Thursday pressed the Federal Communications Commission to consider allocating spectrum resources for commercial space launch operations, saying that doing so would be “a significant step” toward streamlining launch spectrum licensing in the future. (12/16)

NASA Issues Contractor Reporting Rule For $10M Of Property (Source: Law360)
NASA on Friday finalized a rule that will require contractors working with $10 million or more of the agency’s property to submit monthly reports, as part of an effort to help assess the efficiency and effectiveness of asset management. (12/16)

WTO Rules that State Tax Incentive for Boeing is a Prohibited Subsidy (Source: New York Times)
The World Trade Organization in November ruled that a tax break from Washington State to help Boeing develop its new 777X jetliner was a prohibited subsidy. Washington had ageed to the tax cut in 2013 when Boeing was considering where to assemble the new aircraft. Editor's Note: The U.S. announced last week that it would formally appeal the WTO decision. (12/16)

Russia's Lunar Rover will Help Stake a Claim on the Moon (Source: Russia Beyond the Headline)
The new lunar rover to help Russia build a base on the Moon will be developed by the same companies that created one in Soviet times: RAS Space Research Institute; TsNIIMash (the Central Research Institute of Machine Building), which is Roscosmos' lead scientific organization; NPO Lavochkin; and others. (12/19)

Major Rocket Scientist: NASA Should Abandon ‘Safety First’ (Source: Daily Caller)
NASA needs a cultural change to focus more on its mission and less on safety if it wants to finally put humans on Mars, a scientist involved in plans to visit the Red Planet told The Daily Caller News Foundation. Dr. Robert Zubrin, who helped design plans for NASA’s manned mission to Mars and wrote the “The Case For Mars,” thinks that the space agency is being held back by too much focus on safety to the detriment of its other goals. (12/18)

Mars Rover’s Drill Out of Action (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
The rock-coring drill fixed to the end of the Curiosity rover’s robot arm has suspended operations to allow engineers on the ground to diagnose, and officials hope correct, a problem traced to the mechanism that pushes the drill bit onto rocks to collect powder samples.

Rover controllers based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, first encountered the issue Dec. 1 when Curiosity was unable to complete a planned drilling on the lower flank of Mount Sharp, a three-mile-high (5-kilometer) mountain the robot is climbing to study how the environment evolved on ancient Mars. (12/18)

Hope of North Bay Becoming Canada's First Spaceport Put on Hold (Source: SpaceRef)
It was June 2014 that S3 announced it would be using North Bay's Jack Garland Airport (YYB) and partnering with Canadore College. S3 was developing an unmanned suborbital spaceplane, called SOAR, for small satellite deployment. SOAR would have been able to launch satellites up to 250 kg in size.

In November 2014 S3 completed it's drop-test flight campaign in North Bay. S3 later announced it would perform Zero-G flight out of North Bay as well. The company had planned an initial public offering (IPO) but in late December 2015 cancelled the IPO along with the zero-g flights. S3 has until December 23rd to contest the Swiss court ruling. It's unclear if S3 will come out of bankruptcy. (12/19)

The Runway at the Edge of Tomorrow (Source: Popular Mechanics)
For more than three decades, Kenneth Hooks has seen Cape Canaveral from his perch inside the nation's most unusual air traffic control tower. The tower controls access to the Shuttle Landing Facility, a 15,000-foot long runway that hosted shuttle touchdowns until the program ended in 2011.

This runway is a symbol of where spaceflight has been. Now it's becoming a key hub of the future. Since 2015 the runway, tower, and other pieces have been operated by Space Florida, the state's spaceport development authority seeking to boost commercial business ventures. And this place is a key part of the return of human spaceflight, too.

The Shuttle Landing Facility is simply massive—15,00 feet long and 200 feet wide, with two feet of concrete at its the center. It can accommodate some of the largest aircraft in the world as well as spaceplanes traveling at high speeds. There are two wide asphalt drive lanes on either side of the concrete. The lip between the two are evident near this plaque commemorating the final shuttle mission. Click here. (12/19)

Cave Living on the Moon (Source: Air & Space)
Occupying a cave has many advantages for future inhabitants of the Moon. Being underground, people are protected from the constant rain of micrometeorites, galactic cosmic rays (high energy nuclei that can penetrate any material and might cause genetic mutations) and coronal mass ejections from the Sun—the occasional eruption of large streams of highly charged material that can fry both equipment and people left unshielded from these solar “storms.”

In addition, caves offer a near-constant thermal environment. This allows people to dwell in benign conditions that do not undergo the temperature extremes on the lunar surface, where it may be as hot as 100°C during the local noon and as cold as -150°C just before dawn. A lunar day consists of two weeks of sunlight followed by two weeks of darkness, but at the poles the sun circles around on the horizon rather than rising and setting—a more benign environment with near constant (-50°C) temperatures. Click here. (12/19)

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