January 11, 2017

The Cement Mixer Space Capsule of Winganon (Source: Amusing Planet)
Along a lonely stretch of road between the small villages of Talala and Winganon in the US state of Oklahoma, lies what appears to be an abandoned space capsule. The letterings ‘NASA’ and ‘United States of America’ along with the flag is clearly visible on its side. However, it doesn’t take long to realize that the fallen spacecraft is actually a cement mixer. Click here. (10/2015)

Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Accepting Nominations for Neil Armstrong Award (Source: ASF)
Through a partnership with the family of Neil Armstrong and the generosity of Neil's friend, Jim Hays, ASF has now established the Neil Armstrong Award of Excellence. This award will recognize a past Astronaut Scholar whose character and unique achievements best exemplify the principles embodied by Neil and all of the astronauts who have ventured into space. The first award will be presented at the Innovator's Gala to be held in Washington, D.C. on September 16, 2017. Click here. (1/10)

Space Coast Could Host More Than 30 Launches in 2017 (Source: Florida Today)
The Space Coast could see as many as 32 launches by five different rockets in 2017, the vice commander of the Air Force's 45th Space Wing said Tuesday. That would easily surpass the 23 launch operations supported in 2016, the Eastern Range's busiest year in two decades.

“Just a tremendous year,” said Col. Walt Jackim, in a “State of the Wing” presentation to the National Space Club Florida Committee in Cape Canaveral. “It’s only going to get busier for us.” United Launch Alliance is expected to kick off the 2017 campaign with an Atlas V launch next Thursday night, Jan. 19. It's the first of at least seven launches ULA plans from Florida, including six on the Atlas V and one by a Delta IV. (1/10)

Spotlight on Some of the ‘Next Big Things’ (Source: Via Satellite)
Over the last few years, space has suddenly become hip with the likes of Spacebook, Google and Facebook resonating with young Millennials attracted by the possibilities of working on space-based initiatives. In Silicon Valley, there are many start-up companies with lofty goals and big ambitions. But, who are these companies and why should you be aware of them? We take a look at some of the hottest new companies entering satellite and what they are looking to bring to our industry. Click here. (1/10)

Ethiopia Plans Remote Sensing/Weather Satellite (Source: ABC)
Ethiopia says it will launch a civilian satellite into orbit in three to five years to better predict weather conditions and for remote sensing activities inside the country. Ethiopia is among a number of African countries with growing space ambitions. The spokesman for the Ethiopian Ministry of Science and Technology says the country likely will launch the satellite from China. Ethiopia aims to be a space science hub and has a Space Science Council chaired by the prime minister. (1/10)

Cubesat Testbeds Trim Risk And Save Millions (Source: Aviation Week)
Among the payloads awaiting rides to orbit on a SpaceX Falcon 9 is a U.S.-South Korean cubesat experiment that perfectly illustrates the value of tiny platforms as low-cost precursors for vastly more expensive spacecraft. Its acronym is a stretch—Canyval-X, for “Cubesat Astronomy by NASA and Yonsei Using Virtual Telescope Alignment Experiment.” But it covers all the bases in describing how a project that costs the U.S. and South Korean space agencies less than $1 million. (1/11)

NASA Faces The Unknown In Preparing For Trump Administration (Source: NPR)
President-elect Donald Trump has not provided many specifics about what he plans to do with NASA. But private companies are expected to take a bigger role in space travel in the coming years. Click here. (1/7)

DARPA Paves Way For Commercial Satellite Servicing (Source: Aviation Week)
Anticipating the launch of a geostationary satellite repair demonstration in fiscal 2021, DARPA has begun an effort to develop standards for robotic servicing of government and commercial spacecraft in orbit. The Pentagon’s advanced research agency plans to leave an industry-operated repair capability in place in geosynchronous orbit (GEO) after the demonstration, and says standards are required for satellite servicing to be commercially successful. (1/10)

Monster Telescope to Seek Out Habitable Alien Worlds in Neighboring Star System (Source: Seeker)
The Breakthrough Starshot initiative is looking for exciting interstellar destinations and has teamed up with one of the most powerful observatories on the planet to seek out exoplanets around a star system right next door. Backed by theoretical physics heavyweight Stephen Hawking and funded by venture capatalist Yuri Milner, the mind-blowing $100 million project hopes to send nano-probes across the interstellar expanse to the neighboring star system of Alpha Centauri. (1/10)

Climate Scientists Anxious Over NASA Cuts During Trump Presidency (Source: Salt Lake Tribune)
Local climate scientists are accustomed to opposition. But if President-elect Donald Trump defunds NASA's climate research as he's suggested, they say, Utah and science generally could face long-term consequences. "I think it's safe to say that it's a period of uncertainty and anxiety for those of us in the climate community," said Jim Steenburgh, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Utah.

Bob Walker, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, told The Guardian newspaper in November that he did not believe it was necessary for NASA to engage in "politically correct environmental monitoring." He suggested that under Trump, NASA would be charged exclusively with deep-space research, leaving Earth science to other organizations. (1/9)

‘Alien Megastructure’ Signal May Be Due to Star Eating a Planet (Source: New Scientist)
Orbiting debris could be making Tabby’s star blink. When you are a messy eater, it can take a long time to clean up after a meal. The slow dimming of Tabby’s star and the sudden dips in its light may be caused by an orbiting cloud of debris left over from when it partially gobbled a planet.

The star KIC 8462852 rose to prominence in 2015, when a team of astronomers led by Yale’s Tabetha Boyajian (after whom the star is nicknamed) observed a series of abrupt dips in its brightness, in which it dimmed by up to 22 per cent before going back to normal. There are many ideas about what causes the star’s sporadic blinking, from internal stellar dynamics to swarms of orbiting comets to an enormous alien megastructure. (1/9)

Asteroid Flies by Earth About 50% Closer Than the Moon, and We Barely Saw it Coming (Source: Business Insider)
Early Monday morning, while people on the East Coast were making coffee, dropping kids off at school, and cursing in traffic, a space rock as big as a 10-story building slipped past Earth. The asteroid, dubbed 2017 AG13, was discovered on Saturday by the University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey, according to an email from Slooh, a company that broadcasts live views of space.

It's between 50 and 111 feet (15 to 34 meters) long, and when it swung by Earth, 2017 AG13 was moving at 9.9 miles per second (16 kilometers per second). The near-Earth object, or NEO, came within about half the distance between the moon and Earth, according to Slooh. (1/9)

Kennedy Space Center Aims to Attract 'Mars Generation' (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
w attractions and enhancements at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex this year are designed to be a draw for the "Mars Generation," said Therrin Protze, chief operating officer. A centerpiece of the changes at the Brevard County facility will be the ATX Center — a stylized name for astronaut training experience, which is scheduled to open in the third or fourth quarter of the year, he said.

Groups inside will simulate the training needed to go to Mars, Protze said. The programs will be "really scientific yet very experiential," he said. Through virtual reality and simulators, "they're going to learn what it's like to work in a microgravity environment," Protze said. Theatrical tricks and floor-to-ceiling 4K screens will help create a Mars-based experience, he said. Participants will feel as though they're being transported 300 feet into the air, gantry-style. (1/11)

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