January 21, 2017

ESA Gets 9.5% Budget Increase in 2017, Led by Navigation (Source: Space Intel Report)
The 22-nation European Space Agency's 2017 budget shows a 9.5 percent increase over 2016 and reflects some of the decisions made at the meeting of ESA's governments in December, such as approval of new money for the ExoMars exploration project with Russia. This year's budget shows the continued heavy investment in Earth observation programs, which remains ESA's largest single investment line. The total budget of 5.75 billion euros ($6.1 billion) is composed of 3.78 billion euros from ESA's member governments, plus nearly 1.7 billion euros from the 28-nation European Union and about 183 million euros from Europe's meteorological satellite organization, Eumetsat. (1/19)

From School to Space: Satellite Built by Brazilian Students Launched in Orbit (Source: Space Daily)
A satellite built by students of a Brazilian middle school was launched into space from aboard the International Space Station on Monday, January 16. The Tancredo-1 satellite, developed by the students of Tancredo de Almeida Neves Municipal School in the city of Ubatuba, measures only 13 centimeters in diameter and weighs about 700 grams. (1/20)

McCain Unhappy With DOD Space R&D Cuts (Source: Space News)
The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee is criticizing the Defense Department for cuts in space-related R&D. A report issued this week by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) noted that while threats to space assets are growing "with alarming speed," the Defense Department has cut research and development spending on space systems from $5 billion a year to less than $1 billion from 2009 to 2016. McCain, in a report that broadly addressed requirements for defense spending, said that "space must be a priority for additional funding" in the years to come to counter those emerging threats. (1/19)

OHB Speeds Production of Smaller GEO Satellites (Source: Space News)
OHB System is working to speed up production of its line of small geostationary satellites. The first SmallGEO satellite, Hispasat 36W-1, is scheduled to launch next week, seven years after it was ordered. OHB said technical challenges stretched out the production time of that satellite, and expects to build future satellites in about three years. (1/19)

Trump Considering Human Mars Mission? (Source: Washington Post)
Some speculate that incoming President Donald Trump is considering supporting a revamped humans-to-Mars program. Trump reportedly talked about Mars exploration and public-private partnerships with Elon Musk during a meeting. Trump also talked with historian Douglas Brinkley about the Apollo program and how it brought the country together in the 1960s. (1/19)

Trump Planning Significant Budget Cuts (Source: The Hill)
The Trump administration, though, is reportedly planning significant budget cuts. Plans being developed by his advisers call for "dramatic" cuts to non-defense programs, including major changes in various cabinet-level agencies. The report did not specifically address potential cuts to NASA programs, or space-related programs at other agencies, like NOAA. (1/19)

Earth Microbes Could Survive on Mars (Source: Space.com)
Terrestrial microbes could survive in the tenuous atmosphere of Mars, according to a new study. Scientists studied several types of microbes known as methanogens, which do not require oxygen and could live just below the surface of Mars. They tested the microbes by exposing them to atmospheric conditions like those found on Mars. The microbes survived in that environment during experiments lasting up to three weeks. Future tests plan to study how the microbes handle both Martian atmospheric conditions and low temperatures. (1/19)

We Are Growing Crops in Space But What About Animal Protein? (Source: 21st Century Tech)
NASA is experimenting with growing edible plants in space. The first vegetables have already been harvested from the Veggie Plant Growth System on the International Space Station (ISS). Lettuce plants grown in 2010 were picked and frozen to return to Earth to see if space provided a safe environment for food production. Space farming is seen as a necessary technological advancement if humans are to travel to Deep Space destinations like near-Earth asteroids or inhabit the surface of Mars.

For this purpose NASA’s Veggie uses a “cut-and-come-again” technique to repeatedly harvest leaves from edible plants while leaving the core intact. This allows for continuous regeneration of the plant and harvests every 10 days. But how much lettuce can a crew eat before the novelty and lack of vegetable and fruit varieties wears thin? What is in the works to introduce space-grown animal protein? We know that human bodies are affected by the micro gravity of space. Bones get thinner. Muscle mass is lost. Our circulatory systems get lazy and our heads swell. Would the same thing happen to animals we bring into space? Click here. (1/17) 

2017 Rocket Campaign Begins in Alaska (Source: Space Daily)
A NASA sounding rocket campaign during January through March 2017, at the Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska will support the effort to better understand the space that surrounds Earth - key situational awareness needed as humans seek to explore beyond our home planet. Three missions, including five separate launches, explore the Earth's magnetic environment and its impact on Earth's upper atmosphere and ionosphere.

Each of the three missions expands our understanding of near-Earth space, including new information about the composition of the atmosphere, as well as processes behind how the sun, solar winds, and Earth's magnetosphere affect auroras. Such research helps create a robust, detailed understanding of the dynamic low Earth orbit environment in which our spacecraft and astronauts travel. (1/20)

How Cheap Internet Access Could Be SpaceX’s Secret Weapon (Source: Fortune)
In November, SpaceX filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission to launch 4,425 satellites into orbits between 690 and 825 miles above the Earth. “Once fully deployed, the SpaceX System will pass over virtually all parts of the Earth’s surface and therefore, in principle, have the ability to provide ubiquitous global service,” SpaceX said in its application. “Every point on the Earth’s surface will see, at all times, a SpaceX satellite.”

To put this project’s ambitions into context, there are currently 4,256 satellites orbiting the planet. Only 1,419 of them are working. The rest are effectively space junk. So Musk wants to put three times as many satellites into the sky as there are in operation right now.

SpaceX will first deploy 1,600 satellites to offer Internet access in the U.S., and the rest to expand coverage around the world. It’s not clear whether SpaceX will offer access directly or through other companies like Google, which in 2015 participated in a $1 billion investment in SpaceX to help it build satellites. (1/18)

Obama’s NASA Made Strides on Commercial Space, but Stumbled on Exploration (Source: The Verge)
Under the Obama administration, NASA has had a dynamic eight years. The Mars Curiosity rover landed, intact, on the surface of the Red Planet, and the Kepler mission launched to find planets outside our Solar System. NASA’s Juno spacecraft put itself into orbit around Jupiter, while the New Horizons mission flew by Pluto, marking the first time the tiny world had ever been explored. All the while, the space agency has maintained a steady human presence in lower Earth orbit, and plans to extend operations of the International Space Station until 2024.

Many of those major events had been set in motion before Obama took office, though. Still the outgoing president has left a substantial footprint on the space agency over the past eight years. In the space community, Obama will undoubtedly be heralded for focusing on stronger partnerships with the private sector. And Obama has made a big commitment to NASA’s Earth Science programs, as well as the agency’s investments in technology development.

But not all of Obama’s decisions for NASA have been met with praise. The Space Shuttle program ended during his administration, and the US has had no way of sending people to space without cooperation from Russia (both set in motion before Obama). And NASA has gone through a pivotal transformation in recent years, as a result of Obama. The president shifted NASA’s focus from a return to the Moon to a human mission to Mars. Click here. (1/19)

6 Things to Know About Trump and NASA (Source: Space.com)
Ahead of Donald Trump's presidential inauguration today (Jan. 20), here are six things to know about the soon-to-be-president's actions and projected plans relating to NASA. The incoming president likely will have to make decisions regarding a few key NASA programs. Click here. (1/20)

President Trump's 'Mysteries of Space' Joins Inaugural Speech Tradition (Source: Space.com)
President Donald Trump took the oath of office in Washington, D.C., today (Jan. 20) and mentioned space exploration — if for one fleeting moment — as one of the paths forward to make America great again. "No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America. We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again," Trump said in his inaugural address. "We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow." (1/20)

This Is How YOU Can Do Science During the Great American Eclipse (Source: Seeker)
The 2017 solar eclipse that sweeps across the United States this August — which is being called the Great American Eclipse — will be the science highlight of the year. Whether you are an amateur or professional astronomer or an occasional stargazer, NASA is on the hunt for people eager to contribute to science during the eclipse.

Tyler Nordgren is an astronomy professor at the University of Redlands in California, who will give a talk on citizen science during the solar eclipse at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference in Boston next month. To do some experimenting, you need little more than a pair of solar eclipse glasses and a smart phone. Click here. (1/20)

SpaceX to Reopen Legendary Kennedy Launch Site (Source: Florida Politics)
Kennedy Space Center is getting back in the rocket business, now that SpaceX is back in business. SpaceX is planning to launch its next rockets in the next few weeks from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A . They will be the first rockets to blast off from Kennedy Space Center since the space shuttle program was shut down more than five years ago.

NASA announced Thursday that the company will launch another cargo load to the International Space Station on a Falcon 9 rocket, sometime in February, from Launch Complex 39A. The exact date has not been set. But that won’t even be the first. SpaceX also is planning a private launch from the site before then, though the company has not announced any details on the exact date or customer. The company is in line to lift two different commercial satellite missions  into space this winter, for the Luxembourg SES-10 satellite, and for the Brazilian EchoStar satellite. (1/19)

Space Junk Mission Leads 2017 Rocket Launches (Source: CNN)
Space needs cleaning if costly catastrophic collisions are to be avoided, scientists warn. Several litter-picking ideas to remove space junk from Earth orbit, including a net, a harpoon and a sail are due to be tested later in 2017. Led by scientists from the Surrey Space Center in the UK and funded by the European Commission, the RemoveDEBRIS project aims to tackle the growing problem of orbiting garbage that threatens satellites vital for the Internet, cell phones and navigation. (1/20)

UAE to Launch Project Space Forum (Source: SpaceWatch Middle East)
Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of MBRSC and general supervisor of all projects of the Center and its strategic and development plans, MBRSC is launching the first edition of “Project Space” Forum on the 24 and 25 January 2017 at Dubai World Trade Center.

As the first of its kind to be held in the region, the event aims to create a platform for young generation interested in science, exploration and innovation in the UAE to help them benefit from the knowledge and experiences of space scientists and experts. These inspirational figures will come from around the world to the UAE to share their discoveries and hopes for an industry that will surely define the future of humanity. (1/20)

Akatsuki Returns From the Dead (Source: Boulder Weekly)
It is Dec. 7, 2015. We’re in Sagamihara, Japan, a little southwest of Tokyo. On a clear day like today, you can just make out the silhouette of Mount Fuji in the distance. We are standing outside of the control room of the Japanese Aerospace eXploration Agency (JAXA), watching as a spacecraft named Akatsuki is preparing for its arrival at Venus.

Success here means the beginning of a promising collaboration between JAXA and NASA scientists — mostly between JAXA and Boulder scientists, since four of the eight scientists chosen by NASA to work with the Japanese on this ground-breaking mission are based in Boulder. The team includes myself, along with Mark Bullock, Kandis Lea Jessup and Eliot Young, all from the Southwest Research Institute. (1/19)

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