December 3, 2016

Flashback 2008: Lane & Abbey Propose Consolidating Earth Science in Merged NOAA/USGS Agency (Source: SPACErePORT)
As a proposed gutting of NASA's earth science role gains steam in Washington, I remember a 2008 white paper by former [Bill] Clinton science advisor Neal Lane and former JSC director George Abbey titled "The U.S. Space Program: Restoring Preeminence in Space Science and Exploration." It recommended some substantial shuffling of programs to allow NASA to sharpen its focus on exploration missions.

One specific recommendation was that "Coordination between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Geological Survey should be strengthened. Consideration also should be given to the suggestion that NOAA and USGS be combined to form a new Earth Systems Science Agency." Click here. (12/2)

How President Trump Can Avert A Crisis In U.S. Space Policy (Source: Forbes)
When George W. Bush took over the presidency from Bill Clinton in 2001, he inherited a space sector in disarray. The Bush Administration spent its entire tenure fixing the problems created by its predecessors. The good news is that it succeeded. By the time Bush left office, military satellite programs were back on track, a highly reliable family of new launch vehicles had been developed, and NASA had a plan for returning astronauts to the Moon.

The bad news is that the Obama Administration turned out to be not much better than the Clinton Administration at thinking realistically about what works in space. So a new crisis in U.S. space policy could unfold during President Trump's time in office, thanks to the policies Obama put in place. The fundamental fallacy of the Obama approach is that the government can save lots of money by tapping the entrepreneurial spirit of the private sector rather than buying rockets the old way.

That's pretty much what Clinton tried to do, because his administration was more interested in spending money on welfare schemes than assuring access to space. However, in space you get what you pay for. If the government tries to save money by turning to upstart launch companies offering cut-rate prices, risks will rise even as launch costs fall. Click here. (12/2)

Spaceport America Chief Aims to Build Aerospace Economic Hub (Source: Beaumont Enterprise)
The new chief executive of Spaceport America says New Mexico is well positioned to use the futuristic facility as a jumping off point to build an aerospace economic hub. Daniel Hicks appeared Friday before an interim legislative committee to brief lawmakers on some of the initiatives planned at the taxpayer-financed spaceport.

Hicks said signature events such as the recent drone summit and next year's Spaceport America Cup rocket challenge are aimed at attracting future engineers and aerospace companies to the New Mexico desert where they can conduct research and development. He said the spaceport's location can benefit more than the fledging space tourism industry. (12/2)

Japanese Heavy-Hitters Invest Lightly in PD Aerospace’s Space Tourism Effort (Source: GeekWire)
PD Aerospace, a Japanese company that’s similar to Virgin Galactic in its commercial spaceflight aspirations, has picked up two high-profile investors: ANA Holdings and the H.I.S. travel agency. In a joint statement issued Thursday, the three Japanese companies said that they agreed in October to work together on space commercialization efforts, including space travel.

H.I.S. is investing about $264,000 (30 million yen) for a 10.3 percent share of the venture. ANA Holdings, the umbrella company for the ANA (All Nippon Airways) airline, is putting in about $180,000 (20.4 million yen) for a 7 percent share. The combined amount of investment wouldn’t be enough to buy two tickets on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane. (12/2)

Spaceport America CEO Meets Skeptical Legislative Committee (Source: Santa Fe New Mexican)
The vision of “space tourism” — wealthy civilians spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to blast off into suborbital space — that was the original selling point for Spaceport America in Southern New Mexico that has yet to materialize. But the facility’s new chief executive officer told legislators Friday that new business and activity is growing, and the spaceport is becoming less dependent on state funding.

CEO Dan Hicks, who began his job two weeks ago, told members of the New Mexico Finance Authority Oversight Committee that Spaceport America took in $2.3 million in customer revenue in the most recent fiscal year. Hicks, a 34-year Army civilian employee at the nearby White Sands Missile Range, also said new business during that period grew by 135 percent. Spaceport America will fund more than 90 percent of its operating expenses this fiscal year, he said.

But Sen. Joe Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, the committee’s chairman, said the financial picture presented by Hicks is too rosy. He challenged Hicks’ claim that the spaceport’s operating and maintenance is almost self-sufficient. Much of the spaceport’s $5.6 million operating budget is paid for by revenues from a gross receipts tax in Doña Ana and Sierra counties, he argued. “When I buy a Big Mac in Las Cruces, I’m helping pay for the spaceport,” Cervantes said. But that source of revenue for Spaceport America will dry up in a few years because the tax in the two counties has a sunset clause. (12/2)

New DOD Space Policy Requires Mission Assurance in New Systems (Source: Inside Defense)
The Defense Department recently released an update to its space policy directive, revising language to emphasize the need to "deter aggression in, promote stability and responsible use of space, integrate space capabilities, and improve space mission assurance." The update to 2012 policy, obtained this week by Inside the Air Force , was made effective Nov. 4. (12/2)

NASA Announces Early Stage Innovation Space Technology Research Grants (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected 13 university-led proposals for the study of innovative, early stage technologies that address high priority needs of America's space program. The Early Stage Innovations (ESI) grants from NASA's Space Technology Research Grants Program are worth as much as $500,000 each. Universities have two to three years to work on their proposed research and development projects. Click here. Editor's Note: None of the proposals were from Florida institutions. (12/2)

House Passes Bill That Would Send Weather Satellites to NRO (Source: Space News)
The National Reconnaissance Office is set to take over some weather missions from the Air Force after the House of Representatives voted Thursday to give the agency “the acquisition programs necessary to meet the national security requirements for cloud characterization and theater weather imagery.”

The move had been expected since April, when, in a draft for the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017, the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee said they wanted the Air Force to start handing over responsibility for the weather missions. (12/2)

Embry-Riddle Students Join Project PoSSUM to Test Prototype Spacesuits in Zero-G (Source: Space Daily)
Two Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University students joined the Project PoSSUM suborbital research program team to evaluate a prototype commercial spacesuit in microgravity as part of the PoSSUM Bioastronautics Program. The tests were designed to evaluate a prototype seat along with the spacesuit/seat interface through a series of three microgravity flights conducted at the National Research Council in Ottawa, Ontario.

Project PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere) is the exclusive citizen-science microgravity research partner of spacesuit maker Final Frontier Design of Brooklyn, New York. A specially modified Falcon-20 Zero-G aircraft to was used to simulate the interior cabin and cockpit environments of commercial space vehicles in order to test the prototype spacesuit.

Project PoSSUM is the only suborbital research and education program that teaches people from all walks of life to be scientist-astronauts. PoSSUM candidates are trained at Embry-Riddle's Daytona Beach Campus to fly PoSSUM suborbital noctilucent cloud tomography missions on commercial suborbital spacecraft. Graduates receive an Embry-Riddle certificate with continuing education credits in Suborbital Mission Operations. (11/25)

Orion to Perform Moon Fly-Around on First Crewed Mission (Source: Aviation Week)
NASA has decided to ease humans back to the Moon in a free-return flyaround trajectory on the first flight of the Orion crew capsule with astronauts on board, instead of going directly to the lunar orbit where it plans to test hardware for human missions to Mars. Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2), now targeted for 2021, will check out the Orion’s life support and other critical systems in elliptical Earth orbit before heading on to a lunar flyaround and returning to Earth, according to William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for human exploration and operations. (12/1)

ManTech Working Air Force Contract to Support Falcon-9 EELV Certification (Source: DOD)
ManTech SRS Technologies of Fairfax, Virginia, has been awarded a $27,322,108 contract modification for systems engineering and integration services to support the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Acquisitions Division for work including a Falcon 9 upgrade certification. The work is expected to be completed by March 22, 2020. (12/1)

Boeing CEO Urges Trump Support for Ex-Im Bank (Source: Puget Sound Business Journal)
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg urged the new Republican administration of President-elect Donald Trump to preserve and reopen, not abolish the U.S. government's Export-Import Bank. Muilenburg said if Trump gets rid of the Ex-Im Bank, as he vowed to during the 2016 election campaign, Boeing will lose foreign customers — and big contracts — to rivals in other countries, including Airbus. (12/2)

Burn-Through in 3rd Stage Engine Chamber May Have Caused Soyuz Loss (Source: Tass)
Russia’s state commission blames the engine burn of the third stage for Thursday’s accident with the Soyuz-U rocket carrying the Progress MS-04 spacecraft, a space industry source said. "The key version is a burn-through of the combustor chamber of the third stage’s engine," the source said. This could have been caused by either foreign particles in the engine or an improper assembly of the engine, he explained. (12/2)

Causes of Progress Cargo Spacecraft’s Loss Unlikely to be Established (Source: Tass)
The causes of Thursday’s loss of the Progress cargo spacecraft are unlikely to be established, because neither telemetry data nor debris of the Soyuz-U rocket that was taking the cargo vehicle in orbit are available. "Telemetry transmission from the rocket was disrupted instantly, so it is practically impossible to establish the sequence of events to identify the causes of the emergency. As for material evidence, such as debris of the rocket’s third stage that might provide some clues, it is not available, either," the source said. (12/2)

New Movie 'Hidden Figures' has Space Coast Connection (Source: Florida Today)
A new space-themed movie has a Space Coast tie. Allison Schroeder, a 1997 graduate of Melbourne High, co-wrote the screenplay for "Hidden Figures." The film, set for release on Jan. 6, tells the story of three brilliant African-American women at NASA, who were the brains behind one of the program's first successful space missions: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit.

Schroeder co-wrote the screenplay with director Theodore Melfi. Based on the book of the same name, written by Margot Lee Shetterly, the film stars Taraji P. Henson (Fox's "Empire"), Oscar winner Octavia Spencer ("The Help") and singer Janelle Monae. The all-star cast also includes Oscar winner Kevin Costner and Emmy winner Jim Parsons from TV's "Big Bang Theory." (12/2)

December Will Be a Busy Month for Launches (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
December is shaping up to be a very busy launch month for the U.S. On the East Coast, three different satellites are expected to take to the skies, providing improved services and weather monitoring. Additionally, on the West Coast, SpaceX hopes to fly their Falcon 9 after being grounded for over three months. Click here. (12/2)

The Top Five dangers of Space Travel (Source: Science)
Just lifting off the surface of Earth and landing on another planet is bad enough. But how intense are the dangers of actually traveling in space? Here are five of the most dangerous threats astronauts will face when traveling to Mars and beyond. (12/2)

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