December 4, 2016

Delta IV Prepped for Wednesday Launch From Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: Florida Today)
A United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket is closing in on a Wednesday evening blastoff with a high-bandwidth Air Force communications satellite. Launch from Cape Canaveral Spaceport’s Launch Complex 37 is targeted for 6:53 p.m., at the opening of a window running to 7:42 p.m. The $425 million satellite, built by Boeing, is the eighth of at least 10 planned by the Wideband Global Satcom program, or WGS. (12/3)

Could Humans Actually Live on Mars? (Source: The Week)
For thousands of years, humans have looked up at the night sky and pondered their place in the cosmos. One little red dot in particular has long held our interest: Mars. Today, experts believe it's no longer a question of if we'll ever set foot on the Red Planet, but when. Recent technological advances mean this could happen within decades. While the dream of colonizing Mars is a fascinating one, is it a good idea? What will be the biggest challenges? And once we get there, could we even survive? Click here. (12/2)

Xinwei to Buy Spacecom Despite Amos Explosion (Source: Globes)
Spacecom Satellite Communications Ltd. (TASE:SCC) will be sold to Chinese communications corporation Xinwei for $190 million (about NIS 730 million), sources inform "Globes". That is 33% less than the parties agreed three months ago but 50% higher than the company's current market cap. In August, Spacecom closed a $285 million sale deal with Xinwei, only to have the Amos 6 satellite destroyed in the SpaceX launch pad explosion in Florida a week later, and share prices plummet more than 50%. (11/30)

Fragment of Russian Progress Cargo Spacecraft Found in Siberia (Source: Sputnik)
Russian Emergencies Ministry specialists have found a fragment of the Russian Progress MS-04 cargo spacecraft in Siberia. According to the Russian Emergencies Ministry, the Progress fragment was found about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the city of Kyzyl.

Editor's Note: Just FYI, that's a debris field extending about 1450 miles downrange from the Baikonur launch site. For comparison, if this would have launched from the Boca Chica site in Texas (albeit on a non-ISS trajectory), the debris would have landed in the Bahamas. (12/3)

Moon Village Concept Attracts Worldwide Support (Source: Guardian)
Futuristic plans for a moon village proposed by the European Space Agency are winning support around the world. The idea is to set up a permanent human outpost on the moon as a base for science, business, mining and even tourism. The ESA director general said the moon village was discussed by member state ministers meeting in Lucerne, Switzerland, to decide space funding.

“We are joining forces. There are companies offering payloads. There are public entities going to the moon and offering payloads. Even NASA is part of this. So therefore the moon village was a part of our discussion at the very beginning.” He stressed that the village was no more than a concept and did not form part of any mission program. (12/2)

Second SpaceShipTwo Performs First Glide Flight (Source: Space Flight)
Virgin Galactic’s second SpaceShipTwo performed its first free flight Dec. 3, a glide test that begins the next phase in testing of the commercial suborbital spaceplane. SpaceShipTwo, named VSS Unity, and its carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo, took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California at about 9:50 a.m. Eastern. The spaceplane separated from WhiteKnightTwo at 10:40 a.m. Eastern, gliding back to a runway landing in Mojave ten minutes later, according to updates provided by the company.

The flight is the first in a series of glide flights to test the aerodynamic performance of the vehicle before moving ahead into powered flights. Virgin Galactic President Mike Moses said the number of flights will depend on how long it takes to achieve a set of test objectives. “There’s 10 glide flights’ worth of targets,” he said. “We could do those in 8 flights, or might take 15, but we’re not going into the next phase before we clear those.” (12/3)

US Military Develops 'Multi-Object Kill Vehicle' to Blast Enemy Nukes (Source: Seeker)
Defensive weapons that can intercept and destroy enemy missiles before they can harm the United States or its allies have been a key part of military strategy for decades, but the rules of the game are changing. More countries have or are developing long-range missile technology, including systems that can carry multiple warheads, known as Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles (MIRVs) and/or decoys.

"Both China and Russia possess the MIRV capability for their ballistic missiles. In 2014, reports confirmed that Iran too had developed Multiple Re-entry Vehicles (MRVs) for their ballistic missiles. Cold War literature suggests that MIRVs are first strike weapons and could be strategically destabilizing," independent consultant Debalina Ghoshal wrote in a June 2016 report for the Federation of American Scientists. (12/1)

Trump Carrier Deal Might Have Implied Consequences for United Technologies (Source: Newsweek)
A top Indiana economic development official said the Carrier decision was based more on the firm’s fear that if it shifted the jobs out of the United States, Trump’s administration would punish Carrier’s parent company, aerospace/defense contractor United Technologies, by restricting its access to billions of dollars of federal government contracts. United Technologies annually gets roughly $5.6 billion in federal contracting largesse, according to the Indianapolis Star. (12/3)

Moon Express: £8,000 Lunar Flights on Target to Begin by 2026 (Source: The Telegraph)
So infectious is the enthusiasm of billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist Naveen Jain that just a few minutes in his company is enough to convince you that anything is possible. That’s just as well because - were it explained by someone lacking his unwavering confidence – his latest endeavour would sound entirely outlandish.

Founded in 2010, his company Moon Express has become the only private enterprise to be granted permission to travel beyond Earth’s orbit and land on the Moon. In 2017, Moon Express will send an unmanned vessel into orbit in the first of a series of missions that will, says Jain, teach humanity “to stand outside our planetary system and to learn how to live somewhere else”.

The rocket to be used by Moon Express next year will cost about $5 million; Jain expects the same apparatus to cost $2 million within five years; within 10 years he predicts we will be able to buy passage to the Moon and back for about $10,000 (£7,925), with the journey no more strenuous (albeit longer) than taking a flight from San Francisco to Sydney today. (12/2)

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