December 7, 2016

Eyes in the Sky (Source: Space Daily)
Donald Trump's election is generating much speculation about how his administration may or may not reshape the federal government. On space issues, a senior Trump advisor, former Pennsylvania Rep. Bob Walker, has called for ending NASA earth science research, including work related to climate change. Walker contends that NASA's proper role is deep-space research and exploration, not "politically correct environmental monitoring."

This proposal has caused deep concern for many in the climate science community, including people who work directly for NASA and others who rely heavily on NASA-produced data for their research. Elections have consequences, and it is an executive branch prerogative to set priorities and propose budgets for federal agencies. However, President-elect Trump and his team should think very carefully before they recommend canceling or defunding any of NASA's current Earth-observing missions. Click here. (12/2)

China's Space Exploration Plans Unveiled (Source: Space Daily)
The Chinese Academy of Sciences' National Space Science Center has officially unveiled five space exploration plans to be accomplished during the 13th Five Year Plan period (2016-20). Click here. (12/2)

3D-Print Your Laugh and Launch It Into Space (Source: Seeker)
Are you a chortler? What about guffaws, giggles or hyena laughs? If you have the best laugh, whatever the joyful sound, it could end up getting turned into a 3D-printed sculpture sent into space. Israeli artist and computer programmer Eyal Gever is leading this collaborative project called #Laugh. Six years ago the 3-D manufacturing company Made In Space offered Gever the opportunity to become the first artist to create a piece in outer space.

In coming up with #Laugh, Gever had to come up with art that would have universal appeal, literally. The final piece couldn't be specific to any particular country or culture. His friend, the British spoken word poet Suli Breaks, suggested laughter. Gever is using crowdsourcing to gather laughter submissions and identify the most popular audio, which he'll turn into a file transmitted to Made In Space's 3-D printer aboard the ISS. The resulting sculpture will get released into space. (12/5)

Potential Problems with Curiosity's Drill on Mars (Source: NASA JPL)
Engineers are studying a problem with the drill on the Curiosity Mars rover. Project officials said Monday that the drill did not carry out a set of commands last week to collect samples from a rock, which could be linked to a problem with a drill feed mechanism on the rover. For the time being, the rover is stationary and using other instruments to collect data while engineers diagnose the problem with the drill. (12/5)

SS/Loral to Build NASA Satellite Servicing Spacecraft (Source: NASA)
Space Systems/Loral has won a contract to build a NASA satellite servicing spacecraft. The agency announced Monday that SSL will build the bus for the Restore-L spacecraft and related services under a contract with a maximum value of $125 million. Restore-L, set for launch in 2020, will test the ability to refuel a satellite in low Earth orbit. (12/5)

Spire Plans ADS-B Cubesats to Track Aircraft (Source: Space News)
Spire is planning to enter the aviation-tracking market with its cubesat constellation. The company announced Monday it planned to add Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) payloads to its cubesats starting next year, with plans to launch 75 such spacecraft by the end of 2018. The ADS-B payloads will allow Spire to track aircraft and provide updates on their positions every 15 minutes. It puts Spire in competition with Aireon, a subsidiary of Iridium, who is planning to provide real-time aircraft tracking with ADS-B payloads on Iridium Next satellites. (12/5)

Soyuz on Display in London (Source: BBC)
The Soyuz spacecraft that returned British astronaut Tim Peake from the space station will go on display in a London museum. The Science Museum will host the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft starting early next year after acquiring it from Russian manufacturer Energia. The spacecraft, refurbished but still "slightly singed" from its reentry, will join several other space artifacts in the museum. (12/5)

College Teams to Vie for Rocketry Prize at Spaceport America Cup (Source: Spaceport America)
Spaceport America will host more than 110 colleges at a rocketry competition in June 2017. The New Mexico spaceport will be the site for the inaugural Spaceport America Cup, the new home of the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition. The five-day event will include three days of launch competitions at the spaceport and other events there and in the city of Las Cruces. (12/5)

XCOR Loses Co-Founder Aleta Jackson (Source: Parabolic Arc)
XCOR lost one of its four founders on Sunday. Loretta “Aleta” Jackson DeLong passed away in Midland, Texas, after a losing a battle with ovarian cancer. She was 68. Aleta had founded XCOR in 1999 with Jeff Greason, Doug Jones and her partner and future husband Dan DeLong. The four had been laid off from Rotary Rocket and decided to found XCOR. I got to know Aleta during my interactions with XCOR. She was an extraordinary person. I will miss her spirit. (12/6)

Germany Provides Approximately 2 Billion Euros to ESA Space Projects (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The highest decision-making body of the European Space Agency (ESA) met this year on 1 and 2 December at the Culture and Convention Centre (KKL) in Lucerne, Switzerland, to set the financial and programme-based course for European space travel for the coming years. Ministers in charge of space in Europe last came together exactly two years ago on 2 December 2014 in Luxembourg.

The German Federal Government was represented by Brigitte Zypries, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). Brigitte Zypries, who is also aerospace coordinator, was supported by Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Executive Board and Gerd Gruppe, Member of the DLR Executive Board responsible for the Space Administration, which, in close collaboration with the BMWi, prepared the German position for the ESA Council meeting at ministerial level. (12/6)

Did the Apollo 1 Fire Have to Happen? (Source: Air & Space)
Throughout NASA, shock gave way to grief. NASA life-support engineer Dick Johnston likened the deaths of the Apollo 1 crew to the loss of a father or brother, and called it “the worst tragedy I’ve ever been through.” Astronaut Deke Slayton, who considered Grissom his best friend among the astronauts, later called that day the “worst I ever had.” Said Flight Director Chris Kraft, “I don’t know how I survived it.”

For weeks, as the review board went about its grim task, engineers at NASA and its contractors silently prayed that the fault wouldn’t be with them. “I hate to say that, but you really thanked God it wasn’t your system, that it was somebody else’s, and you could breathe easy again,” Cioffoletti later confessed

In the end, the board never determined the exact cause—at the fire’s likely starting point, temperatures high enough to melt aluminum had destroyed key evidence—but the investigators did conclude that no one system was responsible. Instead, in terse, dispassionate language, their report called attention to “many deficiencies in design and engineering, manufacture and quality control,” including the command module’s exposed electrical wiring, some of which may have become damaged by repeated opening and closing of a sharp-edged access door during the months before the fire. (11/30)

Boeing to Acquire Liquid Robotics to Enhance Autonomous Seabed-to-Space Info Services (Source: Spaceref)
Boeing has entered into an agreement to acquire Liquid Robotics, a market leader in autonomous maritime systems and developer of the Wave Glider ocean surface robot, to grow its seabed-to-space autonomous capabilities.

“With Liquid Robotics’ innovative technology and Boeing’s leading intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance solutions, we are helping our customers address maritime challenges in ways that make existing platforms smarter, missions safer and operations more efficient,” said Leanne Caret, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security. (12/6)

Virgin Galactic Working to Make Supersonic Aircraft Go Boom (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Yesterday in Denver, The Spaceship Company’s chairman Doug Shane spoke at Boom’s unveil of its XB-1 Supersonic Demonstrator, a subscale prototype of the Boom supersonic passenger airliner. The Spaceship Company is a proud partner of Boom Supersonic and will provide engineering and manufacturing services, along with flight test support and operations. Doug introduced a congratulatory message from Sir Richard Branson. Click here. (12/6)

Houston Spaceport Partners with U.K. Spaceport (Source: Houston Chronicle)
The Houston Spaceport has signed a memorandum of understanding with a counterpoint in the U.K. to share relevant policies, processes and other information relating to commercial spaceport licensing and operations. On Tuesday, the Glasgow Prestwick Airport welcomed a delegation from Houston Spaceport and Rice Space Institute to meet with representatives from the Scottish space industry and local politicians.

"We couldn't wish for a more experienced partner than Houston," Richard Jenner, Glasgow Prestwick Airport Spaceport Director, said in a news release. "They have a long history of facilitating government funded launches and it is exciting to be embarking on the move to commercial space launches alongside them. This partnership will hopefully expedite the establishment of a spaceport at Prestwick." (12/6)

Blue Origin Rocket Factory Takes Shape at Florida Spaceport (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
In a recent e-mail, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos shared pictures of the company’s 750,000-square-foot (69,677-square-meter) facility, which is being built at Exploration Park on Kennedy Space Center property. Blue Origin will use the factory to manufacture the two-stage super-heavy-lift New Glenn launch vehicle. The New Glenn vehicles are expected to build on the reusability technologies that the company has been testing on its New Shepard suborbital vehicle in Texas.

Bezos proudly declared, “The team has made extraordinary progress—as you can see here, the first steel is now going up.” Bezos expects the rocket factory to be completed by the end of 2017. See the photos here. (12/6)

China Develops Non-Toxic Propellant for Orbiting Satellites (Source: Xinhua)
A non-toxic propulsion system developed by Chinese scientists will enable satellites to carry more payload and save on satellite launching costs, the system's developer said Tuesday. The ammonium dinitramide (ADN) technology used in the system proved successful when it was tested in the Shijian-17 satellite sent into space last month, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation said in a statement.

Shijian-17 is tasked with verifying technology for observation of space debris, new electric sources and electric propulsion. According to scientists, the propulsion system is meant to help an orbiting satellite sustain its altitude as atmospheric drag and gravity can lead to gradual descent in orbit. (12/6)

India Launches Imaging Satellite (Source:
India has launched its Resourcesat-2A imaging satellite on Wednesday morning via its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket. The ISRO launch, from the Satish Dhawan Space Center, was India’s seventh and final of 2016, caps what was already the country’s busiest year for space launches. (12/6)

Allegations Rocket Engine Failure Behind Progress Spacecraft Crash Incorrect (Source: Sputnik)
Information alleging that the Russian Progress MS-04 cargo spacecraft crashed after an emergency stop of an engine of the third stage of the Soyuz-U carrier rocket is based on outdated and incorrect cyclogram data, the Russian Mission Control Center said Wednesday. ”Any version which are now being voiced by the media have nothing to do with reality, including the incorrect cyclogram data. The results of the commission’s work will be announced no earlier than December 20,” a spokesperson said. (12/7)

Russian Astronomers Fail to Detect Meteorite’s Crash in Siberia (Source: Tass)
The meteor seen on Tuesday night in the city of Sayanogorsk, in Russia’s Siberian Republic of Khakassia, went undetected by ground telescopes as there are not enough astronomical observatories in Siberia, the Novosibirsk Planetarium’s Director, Sergei Maslikov, told TASS on Wednesday. "No one carries out astronomic research in that area, unfortunately. Krasnoyarsk is the closest city but there is neither a planetarium, nor an observatory there," he said. (12/7)

Israel Turns to India for Space Technology (Source: Times of India)
It's not just India that seeks technologies from Israel. This time, it's Israel that's come knocking on the doors of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for collaborations in key technologies. Avi Blasberger, director, Israel Space Agency (ISA) told TOI after a meeting with the space agency on Tuesday: "We have specific areas in which we'd like to collaborate with ISRO. I'm hopeful that something serious will emerge after more meetings."

Blasberger said that Israel was particularly keen on collaborating in technologies relating to earth observation, communication and rocket propulsion. "We are also looking at radar satellite," he added. ISRO is already working on a dual synthetic aperture radar project in collaboration with NASA, which TOI was the first to report about. (12/7)

"I Want to Be an Astronaut" Premiers in Space (Source: SpaceTEC)
Blair Mason has wanted to be an astronaut since he was three years old. Now, at 17, that dream has become a vision for "moving humanity beyond Earth." But what does it take to be an astronaut?  And, more importantly, what are we doing now as a nation to keep the dreams of young people like Blair within the realm of possibility?
"I want to be an Astronaut" examines the current state of America's space program: where we've been, where we are, and where we might be headed. The film is a powerful and emotional ride that explores the human side of space exploration, and the realities that need to be in place so that our nation has a program for the "Blair's" of the world to aspire to. Click here. (12/7)

Spending Bill Includes Funds to Repair Hurricane Damage at KSC (Source: Space News)
A bill introduced late Dec. 6 to fund the federal government through April 2017 includes nearly $75 million for NASA to cover repairs caused by Hurricane Matthew in October. The continuing resolution (CR), set to pass Congress this week to keep the federal government in operation through April 28, includes $4.1 billion in overall disaster relief, including $74.7 million for NASA for repairs at agency facilities damaged by Hurricane Matthew.

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida suffered some damage when the powerful hurricane passed just off the coast Oct. 7. Damage was less than initially feared, though, as the storm did not make landfall, sparing the Vehicle Assembly Building and major launch facilities. The hurricane did cause damage to roofs and water intrusion at some buildings. The center did not release a specific estimate of the dollar value of the damage, but center leaders said in the days after the storm it was in the millions of dollars. (12/7)

Clock Ticking to Pass Space Bills Before Congress Adjourns (Source: Space News)
Multiple space bills seeking passage in Congress are running out of time. Congress is expected to adjourn after passing the CR at the end of this week. That gives only a few days for members to attempt to pass a NASA authorization bill that would authorize spending for the agency in 2017; the bill also includes a wide range of policy provisions. A bill that passed the House Monday authorizing commemorative coins for the Apollo 11 50th anniversary is also awaiting passage by the Senate. (12/7)

NASA Earth Science Payload to be Hosted on Commercial Satellite (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected an Earth science mission to fly as a hosted payload on a commercial satellite. The agency said Tuesday it would fly the Geostationary Carbon Cycle Observatory, or GeoCARB, as a hosted payload on an unnamed commercial communications satellite in geostationary orbit over the Americas. GeoCARB will measure greenhouse gases and monitor vegitation health. Total value of the mission, run under NASA's Earth Venture program, is $166 million. (12/6)

UAE Ready to Build Space Regulatory Structure (Source: Gulf News)
The United Arab Emirates is ready to start developing space laws, including those covering space tourism. Mohammad Nasser Al Ahbabi, director-general of the UAE Space Agency, said Tuesday that with a national space policy in place, he expected the government to issue laws within a few months on space issues, including regulations for space tourism activities. Al Ahbabi also said the country's Mars orbiter mission remains on schedule for a launch in 2020, but declined to give an estimate of the mission's cost. (12/6)

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