January 25, 2017

Trump Chooses Former New Mexico Rep. To Lead Air Force (Source: Law360)
President Donald Trump on Monday nominated former U.S. Air Force officer and Republican Rep. Heather Wilson as Air Force secretary, saying her military service and the wide variety of roles she has held across her career would make her an “outstanding” leader. (1/23)

Trump's Contracting By Twitter Likely To Backfire (Source: Law360)
 President Donald Trump's efforts to involve himself in the federal contracting process through Twitter are unprecedented, and could inadvertently drive up costs or touch off lawsuits if he doesn't soon take a more hands-off approach, attorneys said. Presidents using their "bully pulpit" — a term coined by President Theodore Roosevelt — to promote their agendas is nothing new, attorneys noted. But Trump's use of Twitter to cajole, criticize and otherwise attempt to influence companies takes the practice to a different level, they said. (1/23)

Trump Freezes Federal Hiring, With Some Exceptions (Source: Law360)
President Donald Trump signed an executive memorandum on Monday that freezes federal hiring but gives agency heads the power to make exceptions for national security or public safety and lets the Office of Personnel Management grant carve-outs where “otherwise necessary.” The directive prevents agencies from filling positions that were vacant as of noon Sunday or creating new ones until the OPM establishes a “long-term plan to reduce the size of the federal government's workforce through attrition.” (1/23)

DynCorp Issues Redacted Complaint In $10B Contract Fight Against AAR (Source: Law360)
U.S. defense contractor DynCorp has filed a redacted version of a previously sealed complaint in its bid dispute over a $10 billion State Department counter-narcotics contract awarded to a competitor it claims stole its trade secrets to improve its bid. DynCorp has asked the State Department to reverse its award of a $10 billion contract DynCorp long held for air support for counter-narcotics operations on multiple continents to rival company AAR Airlift Group, Inc.

Editor's Note: Both AAR and DynCorp. have a substantial presence on Florida's Space Coast in support of State Department aviation-based drug interdiction operations. (1/23)

Lockheed Establishes Communication with SBIRS Missile Warning Satellite (Source: UPI)
Lockheed Martin has established contact with the recently launched SBIRS missile warning satellite. Now the company will "deliver SBIRS to its final orbit so we can complete deployments and operational testing in anticipation of the satellite's formal acceptance by the Air Force," said Lockheed's David Sheridan. (1/23)

Chao Might be Key to Infrastructure Work (Source: The Hill)
Elaine Chao, President Donald Trump's nominee for transportation secretary [and wife of Senate Majority Leader McConnell], could be a key factor in whether legislation is adopted to modernize infrastructure in the sky and on the ground. Chao's previous Cabinet experience, bipartisan support and her ability to work across the aisle could be influential factors, say observers. (1/22)

Japan Puts its First Military Communications Satellite Into Orbit (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
A Japanese H-2A rocket took off Tuesday with a communications satellite to relay messages and commands among the country’s defense forces, part of a $1.1 billion program to reduce Japan’s reliance on commercial and international providers to connect its military units. The 174-foot-tall launcher blasted off on its 32nd mission since 2001, and its 11th launch with a defense-related payload for the Japanese government. (1/24)

Baker Institute Supports NASA Focus on Moon, Not Mars (Source: Baker Institute)
The next logical step for extending a human presence beyond Earth orbit is a return to the moon. Mars is a “bridge too far,” with many unresolved technical issues. A mission to the moon, only three days from Earth, provides the opportunity to not only develop needed experience but also to resolve technical issues and prove and qualify the needed systems for a voyage to Mars. Click here. (1/24)

Why Mars? Because It Will Change Our World For The Better (Source: Huffington Post)
Imagine, if you will, a multinational crew busily preparing for launch on the first human mission to Mars. As the days tick by, round-the-clock coverage streams across cable networks, computer screens and millions of cell phones. By the time liftoff is at hand, a million and a half people have jammed the Florida coast, creating gridlock for miles and breaking the internet.

As the countdown nears zero, billions across the globe hold their collective breath. A sudden flash, a plume of smoke and then a searing light completely envelops the launch pad. All is eerily silent for a few seconds as the shock wave rolls across the water. Then a low rumbling begins, followed by the reaction of onlookers as a wall of sound hits them squarely in the chest before building to a deafening roar. Slowly, America’s super-heavy rocket emerges from fire and smoke to clear the tower, shaking the Atlantic shoreline with power the world has not known since Apollo.

As days blend into weeks the crew goes about their routine, relaying back their lives over a 6-month journey through deep space. Finally, after a nerve-wracking but successful landing the hatch opens and the first human beings to set foot on another planet begin to walk on Mars. From millions of miles away, we watch as they work together to construct living quarters. A few days later they climb into a land vehicle and set off across the Martian landscape. Click here. (1/24)

Satellite Internet Constellation: Not So Fast, SpaceX! (Source: NSR)
In the prelude of the recent SpaceX successful launch for Iridium, The Wall Street Journal released a story analyzing SpaceX’s financials and internal growth projections. While the historical figures presented seem reasonable, the article included several shocking statements from SpaceX, most notably the forecast of more than $30 Billion annual revenues by 2025 for the nascent satellite internet constellation project. Are these assumptions realistic? One must not forget that public communications are part of a company’s strategy. What then are the implications for the Satellite Industry?

It is sometimes difficult to assess a number without any appropriate reference, so let’s start by surrounding this projection with some context. While it is not clear at all what is included in those projections (end-user terminals, satellite raw capacity, end-to-end service…), we could start by comparing them to the industry’s capacity revenues. NSR’s Global Satellite Capacity Supply and Demand, 13th Edition report assesses satellite capacity revenues to have been $13.8 Billion in 2015, and forecast them to reach  $19.7 Billion by 2025. Click here. (1/22)

ESA's New Rocket is Incapable of Landing Back on Earth - Sad! (Source: Inverse)
The European Space Agency (ESA) just released a new animated video illustrating how its upcoming Ariane 6 rocket system will work. It’s a powerful rocket that’s supposed to help Europe maintain its competitive in the commercial launch industry without having to rely on the private sector for support. But with the dawn of reusable rockets upon us, the Ariane 6 is also an underwhelming one-and-done sort of system — you won’t see this thing pulling off any Falcon 9-esque epic landings anytime soon. Click here. (1/23)

NASA Space Vehicle Rolls Into Downtown Houston for Super Bowl (Source: KHOU)
A multi-million dollar NASA space vehicle will be on display at Discovery Green for the Super Bowl. Air 11 was overhead Monday as the Space Exploration Vehicle, or SEV, was transported on the back of a trailer from the Johnson Space Center to downtown Houston. Once at Discovery Green, the vehicle rolled off the back of the trailer and was driven into a tent.

NASA says the SEV is just part of a “new generation of raving space” vehicles. “These new ideas will help future robots and astronauts explore more than ever before, build a long-term space presence and conduct a wealth of science experiment,” stated a NASA press release. (1/24)

White House Places EPA Under Gag Order, Silencing Taxpayer-Funded Science (Source: Quartz)
US Environmental Protection Agency staff are currently not able to talk directly to the public or the press. On Monday (Jan. 23), the Donald Trump administration placed restrictions on EPA employees “effective immediately” to stop communicating with the public.

The administration directed the EPA not to issue any press releases, blog posts, or social media posts. Incoming requests from reporters will be “carefully screened,” according to a memo obtained by the Huffington Post, and Trump’s transition team would be reviewing all webinars—often offered to press and the public to help communicate complex policy issues—and deciding which would proceed. Publicly funded environmental science, in other words, will not be communicated with the public. (1/24)

Asteroid Mining: The Next Grand Venture Of Tiny Luxembourg (Source: Forbes)
What's a small, landlocked country like Luxembourg doing in outer space? A global financial capital the size of Rhode Island with fewer people than Milwaukee is hardly a logical launchpad for mining valuable commodities in outer space. So why not throw logic to the solar winds and jump in where others fear to tread?

The grand duchy is placing a new, $200 million bet that lightning indeed can strike twice in the same place, investing in research and development, creating and testing future-oriented technologies and establishing financial partnerships with space-related companies willing to locate in the grand duchy. (1/24)

This Team Wants to Brew Beer on the Surface of the Moon (Source: Mashable)
The moon: Great and all, but don't you think it's missing something? I mean, yes, it could use human-rated habitats, some moon buggies, maybe a little infrastructure. Beyond that, though, what does the moon really need? Or so says a team of obviously brilliant (though potentially drunk) engineering students from the University of California, San Diego, who want to brew suds. On the moon. All in the name of science. Their reasoning holds up, too.

“The idea started out with a few laughs amongst a group of friends,” team member Neeki Ashari said in a statement. “We all appreciate the craft of beer, and some of us own our own home-brewing kits." The team has entered a competition to fly to the surface of the moon with TeamIndus —one of the teams competing in the Google Lunar X Prize competition—before the end of this year. (1/23)

University Of Colorado Advances Role As State’s Aerospace Hub (Source: Aviation Week)
The University of Colorado (CU) Boulder is taking advantage of a large gift and an ambitious new dean of engineering to help focus the state's aerospace industry as a growing U.S. center for spaceflight innovation. (1/24)

Chunks of Failed Planets Might Have Scarred Early Earth (Source: Space.com)
The rocky worlds of the solar system may bear scars from the debris that didn't quite make the cut as planets, a new research suggests. Billions of years ago, when the solar system was very young, showers of material slammed into the infant Earth, its moon and Mars, in a period known as the Late Heavy Bombardment (LHB).

For years, studies have suggested that a group of rocks that now surround the modern-day asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter were responsible for that early hammering of the inner solar system. Those rocks would have been thrown toward the sun as the gas-giant planets settled into their present-day orbits.

But new simulations suggest that the rocky debris between Mars and Jupiter may not deserve all of the blame. Instead, bits and pieces of the same material that formed the planets also might have peppered the young inner solar system bodies. (1/24)

Five Finalists Will Try to Land on the Moon This Year to Win the Google Lunar X Prize (Source: The Verge)
From a group of 16 contestants, five teams are officially moving forward into the final stretch of the Google Lunar X Prize competition — an international contest to send the first private spacecraft to the surface of the Moon. To win the competition, one of these finalists has to be the first to launch a spacecraft to the Moon by December 31st, 2017, and then explore the lunar surface. Click here. (1/24)

Boeing Hints That it’ll Unveil its Starliner Spacesuits – and Maybe Who’ll Wear Them (Source: GeekWire)
Boeing’s Starliner space taxi won’t be carrying astronauts to the International Space Station for at least another year and a half, but we may soon find out what they’ll be wearing. We may even find out who the first test pilots will be. Boeing Defense teased its coming attractions in a tweet proclaiming that its “CST-100 Starliner is suiting up,” accompanied by pictures showing design sketches and details for spacesuits in Boeing blue. (1/23)

exactEarth Revenues Reflect Disappointing AIS Contract Renewal (Source: Space News)
Canada’s exactEarth is urging investor patience, saying the sharply lower earnings it saw during its first year as a standalone company will improve as government customers warm to using satellites to track ships. For the 12 months ended Oct. 31, exactEarth revenue fell nearly 30 percent to 18.9 million Canadian dollars ($14.2 million) with annual earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization finishing in positive territory despite a poor fourth quarter. (1/24)

B-52 Bomber Drops Unarmed Nuclear Cruise Missiles in Demo (Source: Space Daily)
The nuclear capability of U.S. Air Force B-52 bombers was demonstrated recently with the launch of three unarmed AGM-86B cruise missiles. The Air-Launched Cruise Missile, or ALCM, is designed to deliver a nuclear payload and is a key air component of the nation's nuclear triad. In the recent test over the Utah Test and Training Range, a B-52H Stratofortress bomber dropped three ALCNs in three separate sorties, demonstrating the USAF bombing forces' ability to configure, load, fly and deliver the weapon. (1/20)

Trump Aims for 'Unquestioned' US Military Dominance (Source: Space News)
President Donald Trump will "rebuild" America's vast military, boost its anti-missile capabilities and prioritize defeating the Islamic State group, according to the first policy statements published on the White House website. Published moments after Trump was inaugurated president, the statements say he will end limits on Pentagon spending agreed by Congress and the Obama administration, and will soon release a new budget proposal outlining his vision for the military.

The statement said the US will develop a "state-of-the-art missile defense system" to defend against attacks from Iran, North Korea and others. It listed developing cyberwarfare capabilities as a key goal -- an issue that gained importance after US intelligence agencies said Russia interfered with the US presidential election, hacking political party computers. Some of that work is already underway. (1/20)

Elon Musk, a 'Team' Player, Tweets Support For Rex Tillerson (Source: Gizmodo)
Future Martian President Elon Musk is a businessman and a capitalist, but ostensibly one with his eye on the future. SpaceX is trying to make commercial space travel not only possible but cheap. Tesla seeks to end our over-reliance on gasoline through electric cars. So why is he on Twitter making nice with oil tycoon and secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson?

Musk doesn’t tend to tweet much about politics, and when he does, his stances are moderate—milquetoast, even. He has, however, tweeted in support of climate change, something the new administration—for which Tillerson is likely to be the secretary of state—largely does not believe in. Tillerson, ex-CEO of ExxonMobil, has had some disparaging words on Musk’s business interests in the past.

They’re convenient beliefs for these respective magnates to cling to: Tillerson made money from petroleum and wanted to sow distrust in alternatives; Musk profits by public concern over carbon emissions. What’s curious is how rah-rah Musk has become all of a sudden, especially about someone like Tillerson. (1/24)

Continuing Resolutions Threatens NOAA Space Weather Mission (Source: Space News)
Extending a continuing resolution (CR) funding the government could delay a planned space weather mission. NOAA has requested $2.5 million to continue studies of the Space Weather Follow On mission in fiscal year 2017, but under the CR can only spend at a lower rate based on what the program received in 2016. That could delay plans to have the first of two satellites in the program ready for launch in 2022 should the CR, which currently runs through April, be extended for the rest of the fiscal year. The satellites would take over the space weather monitoring missions currently handled by the DSCOVR and SOHO spacecraft. (1/24)

World View Plans Balloon Carriage of Weather Radar (Source: Space News)
World View plans to fly a weather radar on one of its stratospheric balloons. The Arizona company, which has developed "stratollites" that can carry payloads into the stratosphere to do missions that might otherwise require satellites, is working with EWR Radar Systems to fly one of its weather radars on a test flight later this year. Flying a weather radar in the stratosphere is seen by meteorologists as a way to overcome gaps in coverage in terrestrial radars caused by topography. (1/24)

Proton EchoStar Launch Faces More Delay (Source: Interfax)
The Proton launch of EchoStar-21 could be facing extended delays. Russian space industry sources said the launch, postponed several times until early February, could be delayed again by up to several months. Previous delays have been linked to work to "eliminate defects" in the Proton rocket, without offering more details about those problems. (1/23)

Lockheed Martin, SpaceX Leaders Meet with Trump (Source: Washington Post)
The chief executives of Lockheed Martin and SpaceX met with President Trump Monday. Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk were among a dozen business leaders who met with the president to discuss manufacturing and related issues. Trump said he would seek to keep manufacturing jobs in the United States and cut down on regulations. (1/23)

Spacecom Deal With China Stalls (Source: Space News)
Spacecom says negotations with the Chinese company that planned to buy the satellite operator have stalled. Beijing Xinwei Technology Group announced in August plans to acquire Spacecom for $285 million, but that deal was put on hold after Spacecom's Amos-6 satellite was lost in SpaceX's Falcon 9 pad explosion. The companies have been in discussions to renegotiate the deal, with Spacecom denying reports in December that they had settled on a lower price of $190 million. Spacecom says there remain "a number of differences on fundamental issues" with Beijing Xinwei, but that it has not given up on the deal. (1/23)

Trump’s FCC Chairman Favors Simpler Satellite Licensing Rules (Source: Space News)
U.S. President Donald Trump on Jan. 23 named Ajit Pai, a Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission who favors simplifying satellite licensing rules, as the nation’s top telecom regulator. Pai, 44, replaces Tom Wheeler, who stepped down Jan. 20 as FCC chairman. Pai’s appointment does not require Senate confirmation because he was confirmed in 2012 when then-President Barack Obama nominated the former Verizon attorney to serve as one of the FCC’s five commissioners. (1/24)

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