January 20, 2017

Canada Says Broadband is a Basic Right for All (Source: Satellite Today)
The Canadian government has pledged to provide high-speed internet access across the entire country, expanding connectivity via a $750 million investment. Some 90 rural communities in Canada currently receive telecommunications services via satellite. (1/18)

Student Rocketry Teams to Compete for FAR-MARS Prize (Source: Mars Society)
Student-built rockets will streak into the stratosphere in Spring 2018 as college and university engineering teams from around the world compete for $100,000 in prizes in a contest sponsored jointly by the Mars Society, headquartered in Lakewood, CO and the California-based Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR), officers announced today.
The FAR-MARS Prize will grant $50,000 to the team whose bi-propellant liquid-fueled rocket comes closest to reaching 45,000 feet (13,716 meters). A second $50,000 prize will go to the team that comes nearest to hitting that same altitude with a rocket powered by liquid methane and liquid oxygen, announced Dr. Robert Zubrin, president of the Mars Society, and Mark Holthaus, director and treasurer of FAR. (1/19)

North Korean Media Hints Impending ICBM Test under Space Rocket Ruse (Source: KBS)
North Korea state media recently began highlighting the regime's aerospace development project. The North has been using its space program as a ruse to advance its intercontinental ballistic missile technologies. A North Korean media outlet on Friday carried an interview with an aerospace researcher, who claimed that a state space development program will begin in earnest.

The researcher was cited as saying that the state space agency will actively carry out its five-year aerospace development plan drawn up by the North Korean communist party. North Korean propaganda agencies have been discussing last February’s launch of the Kwangmyongsong-4 satellite, which was widely believed to be a satellite launch through which Pyongyang advanced its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) technologies. (1/19)

How China Is Weaponizing Outer Space (Source: The Diplomat)
In the highly “informatized” and technologically advanced battles that characterize the 21st century, outer space will play a dominant role. Space assets direct military operations and help in making crucial battleground decisions. In this regard, attempts to weaponize space and command this sphere are to be expected from great powers. The United States and USSR started weaponizing space in the in the 1950s and 1960s respectively, and China is now following suit.

The weaponization of space includes placing weapons in outer space or on heavenly bodies as well as creating weapons that will transit outer space or simply travel from Earth to attack or destroy targets in space. Examples include the placing of orbital or suborbital satellites with the intention of attacking enemy satellites, using ground-based direct ascent missiles to attack space assets, jamming signals sent from enemy satellites, using lasers to incapacitate enemy satellites, plasma attacks, orbital ballistic missiles, and satellite attacks on Earth targets. (1/19)

Bigelow and NASA Consider Extended Use of BEAM Module (Source: Space News)
Bigelow Aerospace is in discussions with NASA about potential extended use of the company's experimental ISS module. The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) was installed on the station last year for a two-year test of its key technologies. Bigelow said the company and NASA "are in agreement to evolve BEAM into becoming an everyday asset aboard the ISS," although both NASA and Bigelow said later no agreement has been reached yet. (1/18)

Trump Considers Anti-Academic for Science Adviser (Source: Washington Post)
The incoming Trump administration is considering a controversial computer scientist as science adviser. David Gelernter met with President-elect Trump earlier this week in New York, and those involved in the transition say he is being considered for the science adviser post held in the Obama administration by John Holdren. Gelernter, a professor of computer science at Yale University, is described as a "vehement critic of modern academia."

Gelernter would be the first computer scientist to hold the position of science adviser, but also the first not to be a member of the National Academy of Sciences. In some ways, Gelernter is a characteristic Trump appointee. He shares the president-elect's bombastic rhetorical style and disdain for elites. In an October op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in which he reluctantly endorsed Trump, Gelernter compared President Obama to a “third-rate tyrant” and called Hillary Clinton a “phony.” (1/18)

UrtheCast Sells Satellites to Unnamed Government (Source: UrtheCast)
Canadian remote sensing company UrtheCast has sold two satellites of a planned constellation to an unnamed government. The company said this week that "a confidential government customer" has purchased the first two satellites of its OptiSAR system, an agreement valued at $180 million that includes shared operation of the entire constellation. UrtheCast is developing a constellation of 16 satellites that will provide high-resolution optical and synthetic aperture radar images. The company plans to launch the first eight satellites in late 2021. (1/18)

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