January 12, 2017

French/Indian Collaboration to Include Reusable Launchers (Source: Space News)
A cooperative agreement between the French and Indian space agencies signed this week includes work on reusable launch vehicles. The agreement, signed during a visit by French officials to India, covers studying future concepts "especially in the domain of reusable launch vehicles," a topic both agencies have been separately exploring in the recent past. The French space agency CNES also highlighted entrepreneurial space activities in India, home to Google Lunar X Prize competitor TeamIndus, calling the city of Bangalore "one of the most promising nerve centers of NewSpace" outside of California. (1/11)

X-37 Spaceplane Passes 600 Days in Orbit (Source: Space.com)
The Air Force's X-37B spaceplane has been in orbit for 600 days, with no sign of coming home. The X-37B launched on its fourth mission in May 2015 and remains in orbit, carrying out a mission that is classified other than some technology demonstrations the Air Force acknowledged at the time of its launch. The previous X-37B mission spent more than 670 days in orbit, the current record for the longest mission. Editor's Note: Expect this mission to end with a landing at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, home to the spaceplane's processing facility. (1/11)

Orbital's Next Cygnus ISS Supply Mission Set for Mar. 16 Florida Launch (Source: Space Daily)
Orbital ATK has completed a significant mission milestone for NASA's next International Space Station cargo mission. The Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM) of the Cygnus spacecraft has arrived at NASA's Kennedy Space Center for processing and assembly before launch. The OA-7 mission is targeted to launch on Thursday, March 16 from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Orbital ATK will launch Cygnus atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket for delivery of essential crew supplies, equipment and scientific experiments to astronauts aboard the International Space Station. The 30 minute launch window opens at 12:29am EDT. (1/11)

Culberson, Cruz Retain Key Space Posts (Source: Space Policy Online)
Two Republican members of Congress from Texas are retaining key committee chairmanships, as expected. The House Appropriations Committee announced Tuesday that Rep. John Culberson will return as chairman of the commerce, justice and science (CJS) subcommittee, which funds NASA and NOAA. The Senate Commerce Committee also announced Tuesday that Sen. Ted Cruz will be back as chairman of its space subcommittee. Democratic leadership has not yet announced who will be the ranking members of those subcommittees; the previous ranking member of the CJS appropriations subcommittee, Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), lost reelection in November. (1/11)

Asteroid Focus Concerns Venus Scientists (Source: Ars Technica)
Planetary scientists who study Venus are "just trying to hold on" after the latest mission rejections. Two Venus missions were among five finalists for NASA's Discovery program, but the agency announced last week it was picking two asteroid missions instead. NASA last launched a Venus mission, the Magellan radar mapper, more than 25 years ago. Scientists who study Venus warn of a generation gap as those who worked on Magellan and earlier missions retire. (1/11)

California Science Center Geting Shuttle SRBs Too (Source: CollectSpace)
A California museum is getting two "flight-worthy" shuttle-era solid rocket boosters. NASA and Orbital ATK are donating the boosters to the California Science Center in Los Angeles, where they will be displayed with the last built-for-flight external tank and the shuttle Endeavour. The museum had originally planned to use a pair of boosters previously on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex that used a mix of real and mock components. The museum sought the authentic boosters in part to ensure structural safety, as it plans to mount Endeavour to the tank and boosters and display them upright, in launch configuration. (1/11)

Patent Awarded to Rocket Crafters to Design and 3D Print Rocket Fuel (Source: Space Daily)
Rocket Crafters has announced a U.S. patent was granted to co-founder, President and CTO Ronald Jones for a method for designing and fabricating flawless, high-performance, safer handling fuel grains for hybrid rocket engines using additive manufacturing technology (also known as 3D printing) which will allow the fabrication of an inherently safe and less expensive launch vehicle with only two moving parts.

Jones stated that 3D printing of the rocket combustion chamber allows RCI's expendable motors to deliver small satellites to orbits at as low as half current launch costs. RCI is developing Intrepid-1, the world's first mass-producible orbital launch vehicle powered by rocket engines based on the now patented technology. This most recent patent furthers RCI's portfolio of licensed technology that now includes multiple granted patents and pending applications. (1/11)

Boeing Plans Buyouts and Layoffs for Engineers (Source: LA Times)
Boeing Co. has internally announced a new round of employee buyouts for engineers companywide, including in Southern California, and warned that layoff notices will follow later this month to engineers in Washington state, where the company has a large presence.

Management did not cite a target for the number of projected job cuts. The buyout package will be offered to employees in Washington state, Southern California and South Carolina. There are about 3,500 employees in Boeing’s Southern California commercial division. (1/11)

Space Startup Has a Solution for Remote Sensing Woe (Source: Quartz)
Many space startups are vying to take the place of the world’s governments as the pre-eminent operators of imaging satellites, but this one has a unique scheme to take advantage of orbital radar. Capella Space, which will launch its first satellite this year, aims to take advantage of a gap in current commercial satellite coverage. Most imaging satellites rely on daylight and the absence of clouds for the clearest imagery.

At night or when the weather isn’t cooperating, there’s not too much to see. And many of the customers for satellite imagery want to be able to count boats, or shipping containers in a foggy port, or trees underneath a mountain cloudbreak. The solution for that problem is a technology called synthetic aperture radar (SAR), which can be mounted on a satellite and used to create a 3D image of the landscape below. (1/11)

Space Travel's Mental Health Toll Could Endanger Long Missions (Source: New Scientist)
Isolation, radiation and other dangers could interact to pose a major risk to mental and physical health on long space missions, according to the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The academies regularly review NASA’s research on how being in space affects health. Their latest report looks at eight recent studies on the dangers of long exploratory missions or a Mars trip.

“Two of the most critical issues are the radiation exposure beyond low Earth orbit and the psychosocial effects of confinement and isolation,” says Carol Scott-Conner at the University of Iowa, chair of the committee behind the report. She calls them “potential showstoppers” that could cause missions to fail. Click here. (1/11)

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