January 24, 2017

Elon Musk and Mars - Looking for a Snowball Effect (Source: Room)
Elon Musk, speaking to a wildly enthusiastic audience at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Mexico on 27 September 2016, has finally revealed his vision for setting up a self-sustaining human colony on the planet Mars. His starting point was the perceived need to make humanity a multi-planetary species in order to secure our long-term future.

This strategic goal is widely shared in the astronautical community. But one problem with it was raised in 2011 by Jeff Greason, then president of XCOR Aerospace. In his own inspirational address to the International Space Development Conference, Greason said: “It is actually the national policy of the United States that we should settle space. But everybody’s kind of afraid to say it because they’re not sure we can do it.”

Elon Musk believes that it can be done, given a suitable Earth-Mars transport system, which his company, SpaceX, is planning to provide. As a result, his presentation was heavy on rockets and spacecraft, light on other key factors which would be necessary for success. Click here. (1/23)

The Outer Space Treaty at 50 (Source: Space Review)
Fifty years ago this week, the Outer Space Treaty was formally opened for signature. Christopher Johnson discusses how the treaty took shape despite the US and USSR having sharply differing views on issues, like the role private actors should play in space. Click here. (1/23)
Satellite Breakups and Related Events: a Quick Analysis (Source: Space Review)
Certain families of spacecraft in sun-synchronous orbit appear susceptible to in-orbit breakups. Charles D. Phillips examines the record of those groups of spacecraft and what could be causing those problems. Click here. (1/23)
Asteroid Discovery (Source: Space Review)
When NASA announced its selections of the next Discovery missions earlier this month, many were surprised that the agency chose two asteroid missions. Jeff Foust reports on the missions that were selected and what NASA is saying about why it chose those missions. Click here. (1/23)
An Engineer’s View of What Low-Cost, Reusable, Commercial Passenger Space Transportation Means (Source: Space Review)
While companies like Blue Origin and SpaceX are making steps towards low-cost reusable launch vehicles, they fall short of what’s been done in other modes of transportation, such as aviation. Mike Snead describes what space transportation attributes should be pursued in federal policy to make society truly spacefaring. Click here. (1/23)
Why the Space Resources Section of Federal Law is Invalid (Source: Space Review)
A controversial provision of the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, passed in 2015, gives US companies rights to resources they extract from asteroids and other celestial bodies. Justin Rostoff argues that the law, as written, is in violation of international treaty. Click here. (1/23)

New Study Predicts 31 U.S. Orbital Launches in 2017 (Source: Astralytical)
Georgia-based Astralytical predicts that 31 orbital launches will be conducted in the U.S. in 2017. That total includes 23 from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport and eight from California and Virginia. Their analysis is contained in a report available here. (1/23)

Russia to Construct Glonass Satellite Navigation Station in Nicaragua (Source: Sputnik)
Experts from the Russian Central Research Institute of Machine Building (TsNIIMash) will construct a ground Glonass satellite navigation tracking station in Nicaragua. Glonass is the Russian version of the GPS, a global navigation satellite system meant to fix the location and speed of surface, sea and air objects to within an accuracy of one meter. (1/23)

China's Hi-Res SAR Imaging Satellite Put Into Use (Source: Xinhua)
China's first high-resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite has passed all its in-orbit tests and is now operational, according to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense on Monday. The Gaofen-3 satellite, which is accurate to one meter in distance, was launched in August 2016. (1/23)

China to Attempt Moon Sample Return Mission in November (Source: GB Times)
China has announced that its Chang'e-5 automated Moon surface sampling and return mission will launch in late November 2017. The 8.2-tonne probe will launch on a Long March 5 rocket from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Centre on Hainan island, and attempt the first lunar sample return since the Soviet Union's Luna 24 mission in 1976.

The mission will be complex, with some of the key technologies and techniques involved will also be applicable for a Chinese Mars sample return mission, planned for around 2030, as well as future crewed journeys to the lunar surface. Having soft-landed on the Moon and drilled for and collected samples, an ascent module will perform an automated docking with an orbiter in a lunar orbit 380,000 km away from Earth. (1/23)

Amy Schumer Rocks an Orange NASA Uniform at the Women's March (Source: Inverse)
On Saturday, Americans took to the streets all over the country to protest Friday’s presidential inauguration of Donald J. Trump. In stark contrast to the dearth of relevant celebrities at the president’s inauguration concert, the Women’s March packed some serious star power. Among the celebrities who came out to march in Washington, D.C. was comedian and vocal feminist Amy Schumer. Never one to arrive quietly, Schumer showed up in an orange NASA jumpsuit. (1/23)

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