December 2, 2016

Soyuz Launcher Suffers “Anomaly” During Progress Launch (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Launch of the ISS Progress 65 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan occurred at 9:51 a.m. EST (8:51 p.m. Baikonur time). An anomaly occurred sometime during the third stage operation. It appears the third stage may have cut out early, which would have put Progress in lower than planned orbit. There are unconfirmed social media reports from Russia of a large explosion in the sky, a large bang and falling debris, so Progress may have reentered the atmosphere.

Our astronauts and the Russian cosmonauts are safe aboard the station. Consumables aboard the station are at good levels. An H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV)-6 from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is scheduled to launch to the space station on Friday, Dec. 9. (12/1)

Canadian Astronaut Will Test a New Bio-Monitor Shirt in Space (Source: Air & Space)
As more and more fitness buffs on Earth use wearable devices to track their performance, a “smart shirt” is getting ready to fly to the International Space Station. Called Astroskin, the shirt—already tested in space analog environments on the ground—monitors parameters such as skin temperature, blood pressure, breathing rate and blood oxygen levels.

Quebec’s Carré Technologies will develop Astroskin for the space station under a $2.4-million CDN ($1.79 million) contract with the Canadian Space Agency. Astronaut David Saint-Jacques will be the first to test it in orbit when he launches in late 2018 or early 2019 as part of the Expedition 58/59 crew. “It’s the only product out there that can monitor vital signs in a non-intrusive way, meaning there is nothing on your hands, nothing on your wrists, nothing on your head. It’s unique,” says Carré founder Pierre-Alexandre Fournier. (12/1)

$95-Million Contract Awarded for New Lab at NASA Langley (Source: SpaceRef)
A contract to build a laboratory at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, has been awarded to W.M. Jordan Co. in Newport News by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). The $95.6-million agreement is for construction of the Measurement Systems Laboratory, which is scheduled for completion in late 2019.

The contract is the largest awarded for NASA Langley in recent history. The 175,000-square-foot lab will be the biggest of the new facilities built so far as part of NASA Langley’s 20-year revitalization plan. The plan calls for demolition of aging structures and construction of new, energy efficient facilities and the rehab of aging buildings. (12/1)

Iridium Announces SpaceX Launch Planned for Dec. 16, From California Spaceport (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Iridium Communications says SpaceX will launch the company's next-generation satellites into orbit before the end of the year. A Falcon 9 rocket will carry 10 satellites into space on Dec. 16, pending regulatory approval. (12/1)

New Enterprise Florida Chief's Big Challenge: Getting Incentive Funding From Legislature (Source: Sayfie Review)
Job one for the new head of Florida's business-recruitment agency is landing Gov. Rick Scott's request for $85 million in economic-incentive money. As the Enterprise Florida Board of Directors unanimously approved Chris Hart as its next president and CEO on Wednesday, Scott reaffirmed his desire to get incentive money for the public-private agency, something legislators rejected earlier this year.

But Hart, a former lawmaker who is the longtime head of CareerSource Florida, will have to convince House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O' Lakes Republican who has called business recruitment incentives "corporate welfare" and "de facto socialism." Fred Piccolo, a Corcoran spokesman, said Wednesday the speaker had no comment on Hart's hiring and that "his position on incentives and corporate welfare has not changed." (11/30)

Alaska's Spaceport Hopes for 2017 Launches by DOD and Vector Space, 2018 Launch by Rocket Lab (Source: Juneau Empire)
Operators of the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak said the facility’s next launch won’t take place before the end of the year as previously reported. Alaska Aerospace Corp. CEO Craig Campbell said the next launch may take place sometime in the spring or summer of next year. Campbell said in August that a small vehicle test launch by Vector Space Systems could happen at the complex by the end of 2016.

But those plans have changed, and Campbell said the company will likely look outside the state to conduct its test launch. “What they wanted to do this winter was a test launch of a smaller vehicle than the one they want to use commercially,” Campbell said. “It probably will be easier for them to do that from another location, like back in the Mojave, than to do it in Alaska for logistics, (weather), and everything else.”

A Vector launch would involve a small payload of 300 pounds and would bring in about $3 million, Campbell told the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly in September. If those plans fall through, the complex’s next launch will likely be a Missile Defense Agency mission. Alaska Aerospace Corp. is working under contract to support Rocket Lab launches in New Zealand next year. The relationship with the aerospace company could bring the Kodiak complex four to six Rocket Lab launches in Alaska in 2018. (12/1)

India’s Space Program Makes Steady Gains (Source: Sputnik)
The Indian space program falters in the area of manned missions, but ISRO has made steady gains in unmanned missions and commercial launches of satellites, fueling keen interest by competitors like China. Click here. (12/1)

Trump Appointments Could Signal Closer NASA/DOD Ties (Source: Inverse)
Christopher Shank’s appointment to the NASA transition team seems to reinforce Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s calls for stepping up military assets in space and push for greater cross-collaboration between NASA and U.S. intelligence agencies.

Why is that? Shank, a former member of the U.S. Air Force, has experience helping the Pentagon work on space programs. He had a stint as a special assistant to former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin. In addition, since 2011, he’s served as deputy chief of staff for Representative Lamar Smith — the chairman of the House Science Committee for the last three years, and for which Shank has served as a staffer.

It’s not just Shank’s appointment that speaks to this notion. Mark Albrecht, space policy advisor under former president George H.W. Bush, has been assigned to work with the Department of Defense for the transition team. Albrecht was long pegged by industry insiders to be a shoe-in for the NASA transition team, so his new role at the Pentagon is a bit of a surprise. But Albrecht’s appointment may actually be a way for the Trump administration to increase the defense department’s influence over U.S. space policy. (11/30)

Aerospace Startups Use Seattle Accelerator to Get Investor Attention (Source: GeekWire)
Some aerospace ventures came to Starburst Accelerator’s shark tank in Seattle today to find investors. Others were looking for customers. But unlike the TV version of “Shark Tank,” none of them was sent away in defeat. "There are no winners or losers,” said Van Espahbodi, Starburst’s co-founder and chief operating officer. Instead, a dozen entrepreneurs got the chance to pitch their ideas at the Museum of Flight, in front of venture capitalists, aerospace executives and other industry types (plus a couple of journalists). (11/30)

Russia to Supply RD-180 Rocket Engines to US in 2017 (Source: Tass)
The Russian Research and Production Association Energomash plans to deliver 19 rocket engines to the United States next year. "During 2017, we plan the delivery of 11 RD-180 engines [for Atlas rockets] to United Launch Alliance (ULA) and eight RD-181 motors [for Antares rockets] to Orbital ATK," Arbuzov said. "As for RD-191 engines [for Russian Angara rockets], we’re now at the stage of discussions with the United Rocket and Space Corporation and the Khrunichev Center on the number of engines that will be ordered in 2017. (12/1)

First Signs of Weird Quantum Property of Empty Space? (Source: ESO)
By studying the light emitted from an extraordinarily dense and strongly magnetised neutron star using ESO’s Very Large Telescope, astronomers may have found the first observational indications of a strange quantum effect, first predicted in the 1930s. The polarisation of the observed light suggests that the empty space around the neutron star is subject to a quantum effect known as vacuum birefringence. (11/30)

Key Legislator Disses White House Science Office (Source: Science)
The White House science office hasn’t been very productive under President Barack Obama, says the chairman of a key congressional research spending panel. And Representative John Culberson (R–TX) says he’d like to see it downsized. “I’d be hard-pressed to identify any tangible, specific accomplishments or achievements by that office,” he said.

Culberson, whose House of Representatives subcommittee oversees the budgets for NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, has never been a fan of John Holdren, Obama’s science adviser. And his latest comments are likely to further heighten anxiety among scientific leaders about how the U.S. research enterprise will fare under President-elect Donald Trump.

The commerce, justice, and science (CJS) appropriations subcommittee that Culberson chairs also oversees the White House Office of Science and Technology (OSTP), which Congress created in 1976. The office has traditionally been led by the president’s science adviser, and Holdren also co-chairs the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), an eminent group of outsiders. (11/30)

Runaway Icing Piled Weight on Pluto's Icy Heart (Source: Cosmos)
Some think an asteroid punched a crater into Pluto’s crust, which then filled with ice from a slushy underground ocean or snow from above. The University of Maryland's Douglas Hamilton and his colleagues propose a different route. Their theory is based on the so-called runaway albedo effect. A patch of ice, brighter than its surrounds, reflects more sunlight.

This means the local area is chillier – and accumulates more ice. More ice means a bigger area reflects sunlight, cooling it further, and attracting even more ice. Editor's Note: This is not unlike the "cryopumping" phenomenon that may have been responsible for SpaceX's recent launch vehicle explosion. (12/1)

China-Made Satellites in High Demand (Source: China Daily)
China will construct and launch two remote sensing satellites for foreign countries in the coming two years, an industry insider said. China Great Wall Industry Corp, the nation's only authorized firm for international space collaboration, will launch Venezuela's second remote sensing satellite next year and Pakistan's first remote sensing satellite in 2018, said Fu Zhiheng, vice-president of Great Wall Industry. China has exported 11 such products to nine countries, including Bolivia, Nigeria and Laos. (11/26)

Elon Musk May Have a New Partner in His Mission to Colonize Mars (Source: CNBC)
Billionaire Elon Musk and SpaceX may have just found a new partner in their his planned mission to Mars. Naveen Jain, the founder of a space exploration company called Moon Express, told CNBC on Thursday that his start-up is willing to work with Musk. Moon Express is the first private company given permission by the U.S. government to explore the moon for resources. It is planning a mission to take a robotic rover to the moon in 2017.

Jain said he has spoken to Musk about working together without giving further details. Earlier this year, Musk laid out his vision to colonize Mars and take a manned mission to the Red Planet in the next ten years. While Moon Express is focused firstly on getting to the moon, Mars is seen as the next goal. "Mars is absolutely the right place to be ultimately. But (the) moon is the first training ground and the first stepping stone." (12/1)

Commercial Spaceflight Challenges for Emergency Medical Response (Source: JEMS)
The first emergency medical responder arrived at the Virgin Galactic crash site at 10:52 a.m. on Oct. 31, 2014, nearly an hour after the vehicle broke up. Despite being on standby, non-standard communications delayed his departure. The Mercy Air medical transport helicopter arrived at 11:16 a.m., and didn't transport the surviving pilot until 11:23 a.m. The pilot arrived at definitive medical care at 11:53 a.m., an hour and 46 minutes after the accident.

After several months of investigations and hearings, the NTSB issued an abstract of its report on July 28, 2015. In their recommendations to the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (the private spaceflight industry trade association), the NTSB advised that commercial operators should "work with local emergency response partners to revise emergency response procedures and planning …" To facilitate this cooperation, local emergency responders need to understand the unique challenges of commercial human spaceflight. Click here. (12/1)

Virginia Transportation Chief to Lead Virginia Space Board (Source: Daily Press)
Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne will soon lead the Virginia Space Board of Directors, which oversees the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority. Layne has been a member of the board since he was appointed transportation secretary in 2013. He has been a member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board since 2009, and is currently chairman.

Last month, Layne represented Virginia at the launch of the new Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island. It was the first successful launch there since the October 2014 explosion of an unmanned Antares rocket shortly after it left the launch pad.

"My objective as Chair of Virginia Space Board of Directors is to capitalize on this successful mission, work with our partners and legislators to promote a business plan of how we're going to use these magnificent assets, the two launch pads and the UAS Runway, as there is tremendous opportunity for economic growth here and Virginia is going to be a long-term committed partner," Layne said in the release. (11/29)

Virgin Galacti Conducts Captive Carry Flight (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
On Wednesday, Nov. 30, Virgin Galactic conducted the fourth test flight of its SpaceShipTwo rocket plane VSS Unity. The carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo VMS Eve, took off with VSS Unity from the runway of Mojave Air and Spaceport. The two craft remained mated together for the entire flight. (12/1)

The Next War: Space (Source: The Hill)
Much international reporting is done these days about Mosul, Aleppo, the Turkish border, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Crimea and the South China Sea. No surprise, since these are places politicians talk about, where lives are lost, saved or left in distress.  Earthbound reporters can see these places, and so center their stories on them. But the real action – is arguably elsewhere. The next war will be decided, if not actually fought, in space. That is why Congress must immediately wake up, and start rethinking America’s national security policy in space. Click here. (12/1)

Canon Joins Japan's New Space Race (Source: Nikkei)
Canon is helping Japan build a low-cost "mini-rocket" for future satellite launches as private companies seek to give the country's lagging space industry greater thrust. Engineers from Canon Electronics, a unit of the Japanese imaging devices maker, have joined a team led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, that is building what stands to be the world's smallest satellite launch vehicle -- about the size of a utility pole.

The company's experience designing and manufacturing devices such as digital cameras will help the team choose the best rocket parts as well as make key control instruments smaller and lighter. Systems for changing the rocket's orientation or separating stages once in space have already been developed. IHI unit IHI Aerospace is handling development of key engine parts such as fuel injectors. (12/2)

Aerospace Start-Up is Getting a PSLV From ISRO To Launch India's First Private Moon Mission (Source: Huffington Post)
In 2011, a bunch of astronomy enthusiasts came together to follow a common dream of sending a satellite to the moon. None of them had any professional aerospace experience, yet today, the Bengaluru-based company is the only Indian team in the race for the international $30 million Google Lunar XPrize. It is now one step closer to its mission by signing a verified commercial launch contract with the Indian Space Research Organization's commercial arm, Antrix Corporation.

This makes TeamIndus the first Indian company to contract an entire launch vehicle for a space mission from ISRO. The deal comes two years after TeamIndus first approached Antrix for the launch in 2014, with the government organisation doing its due investigation to ensure that the spacecraft met its specifications. The startup has paid Antrix the full commercial fees for the launch, though the team was not willing to reveal how much. (12/1)

Free Markets Are Needed in Space (Source: The Hoya)
Anyone who enjoys science fiction novels and movies has most likely fantasized about the possibility of space travel. While most people’s images of space travel have largely been inspired by franchises like “Star Trek” and “Star Wars,” companies like SpaceX and Arianspace are working to make commercial space travel a reality.

While space travel has always been a fascination for humanity, it was not until the space race in the 1960s that humankind began to make meaningful advances toward space exploration. At the time, the Soviet Union and the United Sates went head to head in the race to explore what was beyond Earth and ultimately put a man on the moon. Click here. (12/2)

Arizona Governor Announces Orbital ATK Expansion in Chandler (Source: Orbital ATK)
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny and Orbital ATK announced the expansion of the company’s Launch Vehicles Division operations into an additional facility in Chandler, Arizona. Subject to Chandler City Council approvals, Orbital ATK will expand in a city known for being home to leading edge companies focused on advanced business services, aerospace, life sciences, sustainable and high technology research and manufacturing. 

The building will add 46,000 square feet of office space to Orbital ATK’s Launch Vehicles campuses. With additional facilities in Chandler, Gilbert and Mesa, Arizona, Orbital ATK’s total footprint in the state is more than 840,000 square feet, supporting more than 2,000 high-tech and high-paying aerospace and defense jobs and a total payroll of more than $170 million in Arizona.
The additional Orbital ATK facility will help support a projected growth of up to 500 full-time, high-wage jobs over a five-year period. Orbital ATK’s launch vehicle business began in Chandler in the 1980s and has grown to more than 1,200 employees working in Chandler at two locations. The business provides launch vehicles for commercial, civil and government customers. The additional jobs complement Arizona’s robust aerospace and defense sector that contributes $38 billion annually to the Arizona economy and employs more than 52,000 workers. (12/1)

ANA Joins Japan's Space Tourism Push as Possible Rival to Virgin, Blue Origin (Source: Japan Times)
ANA Holdings Inc. has invested in PD Aerospace Ltd., a Japanese company developing a craft to take people into space as early as 2023 that aims to rival Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Ltd.

The airline, Japan’s largest by sales, invested ¥20.4 million ($179,000) into PD Aerospace in October, while H.I.S. Co., the nation’s largest publicly listed travel agent by sales, invested ¥30 million at the same time, the companies said in a joint statement with PD Aerospace Thursday.

PD Aerospace, founded in 2007, is vying with billionaire Branson’s commercial space company Virgin Galactic and founder Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin to ferry individuals to the edge of space in reusable craft. The Japanese company is first developing a smaller unmanned craft and will then build a ship capable of carrying as many as eight people 100 kilometers above the Earth. (12/2)

ESA Ministers Fund ExoMars 2020 and Extend ISS Role to 2024 (Source: @pbdes)
European ministers have agreed to fund both ExoMars 2020 and an extension of the International Space Station to 2024. Initial word coming out of the meeting in Lucerne, Switzerland, indicates that both efforts, top priorities of the European Space Agency, did secure support from member nations. However, the proposed Asteroid Impact Mission appears to failed to win support. More details are expected at a press briefing later this morning. (12/1)

Florida Congressman's Bill Proposes Apollo 1 Memorial at Arlington (Source: Space Policy Online)
House members are seeking support for a bill to create an Apollo 1 memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. A "dear colleague" letter signed by Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Jeff Miller (R-FL) seek co-sponsors for a bill, HR 6147, that would establish the memorial for the three astronauts killed in the January 1967 fire. Memorials already exist at Arlington for the crews lost in the Challenger and Columbia accidents. (12/1)

Could There Be Life in Pluto's Ocean (Source: Space Daily)
Pluto is thought to possess a subsurface ocean, which is not so much a sign of water as it is a tremendous clue that other dwarf planets in deep space also may contain similarly exotic oceans, naturally leading to the question of life, said one co-investigator with NASA's New Horizon mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. New studies suggest that beneath the heart-shaped region on Pluto known as Sputnik Planitia there lies an ocean laden with ammonia.

"It's no place for germs, much less fish or squid, or any life as we know it," he added. "But as with the methane seas on Titan - Saturn's main moon - it raises the question of whether some truly novel life forms could exist in these exotic, cold liquids." As humankind explores deeper into the Kuiper Belt and farther from Earth, this means to McKinnon the possible discovery of more such subsurface seas and more potential for exotic life. (12/2)

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