January 23, 2017

UK Govt Accused of Covering Up Failed Nuclear Missile Test (Source: Space Daily)
The British government was accused on Sunday of covering up a failed test of its nuclear weapons deterrent last year, just weeks before lawmakers voted to renew the system. Prime Minister Theresa May refused to say whether she knew about the reported malfunction of an unarmed missile when she urged MPs to support updating the Trident nuclear system.

The cause of the failure is top secret but the source suggested the missile may have veered off in the wrong direction towards the United States. "There was a major panic at the highest level of government and the military after the first test of our nuclear deterrent in four years ended in disastrous failure," the source told the paper. "Ultimately Downing Street decided to cover up the failed test. If the information was made public, they knew how damaging it would be to the credibility of our nuclear deterrent."

Editor's Note: If this did in fact happen with a missile launched off the coast of Cape Canaveral, it highlights a function of the Eastern Range that gets little public attention during the slow-moving discussion of modernizing and cutting costs of the range. An Air Force-managed range (with some capabilities that aren't needed for commercial launches) allows the kind of secrecy required to keep news of such incidents from reaching our nuclear adversaries. The question is, can a bare-bones commercially focused (FAA?) range operate at the Cape alongside (or as a subset of) the larger and more expensive Eastern Range? (1/23)

Astronauts Seek the Right Vibe in Tests of Some Orion Technology (Source: Houston Chronicle)
Astronaut Mike Hopkins lay on his back with hips and knees at a 90-degree angle. Strapped into a seat in launch position, he stared at two screens displaying altitude, direction and other critical spacecraft information. His seat began vibrating, and then he set to work. Hopkins read text on the displays. He used the hand controller to resolve caution and warning messages. All the while, his seat continued to vibrate. The feeling, described as riding in a truck down a bumpy road, simulated different portions of Orion's eight-minute trip into space.

It was the first time an astronaut tested the visibility of the Orion spacecraft display screens under the vibration of a simulated launch. "It's important for us to make sure, for that phase of flight, they are able to get the information that they need and respond appropriately," said Jennifer Boyer, the Orion human engineering system manager for NASA. Click here. (1/22)

Washington Insider: Florida's Defense Future Mixed (Source: WFSU)
Military spending in Florida hovers around $70 billion and the Florida Defense Support Task Force is expecting that to continue, if not grow, under Commander in Chief Donald Trump. Military spending increases are already in the pipeline, Principi says. However, Principi also noted that Marine General James "Mad Dog" Mattis, Trump’s pick for defense secretary, has been deliberately vague about base closures.

“We believe that General Mattis is keeping his powder dry. That his answer was intended not to make any headlines.” Regardless, Principi says his sources are telling him to expect another round of base closings in fiscal year 20-21. Republican Representative Clay Ingram of Pensacola chairs the task force, an arm of the public-private business development group, Enterprise Florida. (1/19)

Tech Startups, Space Take Off on Hopeful Year for Central Florida (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
A tech startup scene that has a new leader and a space industry with new facilities set to open this year will mean Central Florida's tech landscape should be significantly changed by year's end. As more industries take their shot at virtual reality, it'll mean new opportunities for some of Metro Orlando's companies working in military simulation and video gaming to lead the way.

Florida's space ecosystem continues to be a strength and officials hope 2017 can be as successful as 2016 when it comes to recruiting companies here. Private commercial companies ULA and SpaceX will continue their competition and launch military and commercial satellites into space from the region. If the region is to continue its expansion, Ketcham said it's important to compete with other states and their space business communities.

The industry has been growing and that means there is more business out there for areas that can support that growth. "We don't want to be complacent because we're not perfect," he said. "The competition is fierce and getting more so every day." Editor's Note: As I wrote in this op-ed last year, Florida could become a victim of its own success if more attention is not given to developing and attracting a skilled workforce to fill the tech-oriented hiring requirements of the companies choosing to relocate and expand here. (1/23)

Asteroid Mining Sounds Hard, Right? You Don’t Know the Half of It (Source: WIRED)
The commercial space industry pushes a particular brand of optimism. Its urge to inspire manifests as soaring soundtracks to three-minute mission-promo videos, press releases with words like “humanity,” and slick graphics of spacecraft that don’t exist yet but could any day now. In the particular case of asteroid mining, business leaders are selling a future in which materials plucked from space rocks make up for Earth’s shortfalls and support a thriving civilization. Everyone is rich, all are happy, and no one wants for anything. O pioneers! We are them! Click here. (1/23)

Boom Completes Wind Tunnel Testing, Paving the Way for Supersonic Airplane Construction (Source: Tech Crunch)
Supersonic airplane startup Boom has just completed a key step on the way to building a production supersonic passenger jet; the startup finished its wind tunnel testing, verifying its first two years of aerodynamic design work and setting the stage for building the airframe that will eventually become the basis of it first flight-ready aircraft.

Boom CEO and co-founder Blake Scholl explained that this was a key turning point because it meant being able to move on to building large-scale hardware for testing with human pilots, but he also explained that even just a few years ago, this kind of milestone would’ve involved repeated wind tunnel trials through multiple physical model iterations over a drawn-out period of time. (1/23)

NASA's Moonwalking Apollo Astronauts: Where Are They Now? (Source: Space.com)
Only a handful of men have stood on the moon and looked up at Earth. NASA landed six missions and 12 astronauts on the moon during the Apollo program. Six others remained in lunar orbit aboard their Apollo spacecraft command modules. One mission, Apollo 13, was aborted in mid-flight. Here is a snapshot of NASA's six successful moon-landing crews and where they are now. (1/16)

You Could Soon be Traveling Across the World on Rockets, Not Planes (Source: CNBC)
People could be traveling from country to country by rockets connected by "spaceports" in the future, the chief executive of Virgin Galactic told CNBC. Virgin Galactic is the space travel company founded by Richard Branson with the aim of taking satellites into space, as well allowing passengers to take suborbital flights above the Earth for $250,000. But the company also is developing plans for spacecraft to transport people across the Earth. (1/18)

Airbus Safran Promotes Launch Record Ahead of Ariane 6 Entering Production (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
Airbus Safran Launchers, which now owns the majority stake in Arianespace, has issued a statement of intent, promoting Ariane 5’s track record as it prepares to enter the production phase of its next-generation launcher, the Ariane 6. The new rocket is set to become operational in 2020. Click here. (1/23)

Industry Eager for Trump Administration to Cut ITAR Export Restrictions (Source: Defense News)
The defense industry is counting on President Donald Trump's administration to continue culling the list of items controlled by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, an effort started by the Obama administration. "The administration was very clear to try to lessen, or even eliminate if possible, the burden on supplier companies that were having to try to navigate ITAR-level restrictions on essentially commercial technology, simply because of definitions," said Remy Nathan of the Aerospace Industries Association. (1/20)

Trump Administration Confirms Commitment to Invest in Air Force (Source: Air Force Times)
An issue paper by President Donald Trump's administration points out that "our Air Force is roughly one-third smaller than in 1991" and confirms Trump's commitment to grow the Air Force. (1/20)

India, US Must Collaborate More on Space Research, says NASA Scientist (Source: Indian Express)
India and the US should collaborate more on space research programs, a prominent scientist from the US space agency NASA stressed here as he felicitated two young Indian astronomers who created history by discovering asteroids in 2010 that are now recognized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in the US.

Amanjot Singh and Sahil Wadhwa, former students of Ryan International School in Rohini, were part of the All India Asteroid Search Campaign (AIASC) conducted by New Delhi-based Science Popularization Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE) organisation in collaboration with the International Astronomical Search Collaboration, where they discovered the main belt asteroid numbered as 2010 PO24. (1/22)

BrahMos Developing Hypersonic Reusable Missiles (Source: Russia & India Report)
BrahMos Aerospace is working to develop hypersonic reusable missiles, The Tribune quoted Sudhir Kumar Mishra, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BrahMos as saying on Jan. 19. The boomerang missile would have a capacity to deliver the warhead, assess the destruction of target, come back and get ready to go again at a speed of more than Mach 10.

Mishra called the project highly challenging, but Indian scientists are capable of doing the job, he said. BrahMos Aerospace, which is co-owned by the Indian and Russian governments, manufactures the supersonic cruise missile that is named after the Brahmaputra and the Moskva rivers. (1/20)

Florida's Bill Nelson in Last Line of Defense for Democrats (Source: Tallahassee Democrat)
Democrat Bill Nelson insists he’s not worried. Donald Trump now occupies the White House. Republicans control both chambers of Congress. And key priorities of former President Obama that Nelson fought for are in peril. But only a couple of hours after watching Trump take the oath of office, the Florida senator sat in his Capitol Hill office calmly explaining why he thinks the dramatic steps Trump emphatically promised to take on the campaign trail — and during his inaugural speech — won’t be so easy to accomplish.

Nelson’s perch on key panels means he’ll be at the negotiating table when Republicans decide they need Democratic help to pass bills. He’s the senior Democrat on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee which will help craft the infrastructure bill Trump wants and which oversees the agencies that measure the effects of climate change on the planet. He’s a top senator on the Armed Services Committee that will help set the nation’s military policies. And he was just named to a subcommittee that will examine cyber security in the wake of Russia’s interference in U.S. elections. (1/21)

India Defers Much-Awaited Heaviest Rocket Launch (Source: Space Daily)
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has decided to postpone the launch of its heaviest rocket GSLV Mk-III by a few months as it did not complete the necessary tests on time. The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) was scheduled for launch on January 20.

"Subsequently, some more tests are planned for the vehicle and the stage level tests also got delayed. Now, these tests will be conducted this month. If any issues arise during the tests we will correct them," said K Sivan. The launch campaign for the first developmental flight of GSLV Mk-III began on September 29, 2016, at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota. The rocket will deploy an indigenous communication satellite GSAT-19, weighing 3.3 tons and carrying Ka/ Ku band payloads. (1/23)

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