January 31, 2017

Orlando's IDEAS Supports Super Bowl Journey to Mars (Source: GES)
With the projected 100,000 visitors and 1 million Houston natives expected to travel through Downtown Houston at Super Bowl LIVE, GES, under the direction of IDEAS and the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee, along with A.R.M., Inc. created a Super Bowl fan experience set to amaze featuring the "wow" factor Future Flight.

"We are fortunate to be able to work with NASA and our team partners at GES, as well as the great ride team at A.R.M. to bring the story of Houston's important role in human spaceflight and the adventure of a Mars mission to life for our guests," said Bob Allen, chief storytelling officer of Orlando, FL-based IDEAS, which was selected by the Houston Host Committee as the lead to design and implement the Future Flight experience. Click here. (1/30)

Iridium Buys Eighth Falcon 9 Launch, Shares with Earth Science Mission (Source: Space News)
Iridium announced Jan. 31 it has purchased an additional Falcon 9 launch from SpaceX that the satellite services company will share with a German-U.S. Earth science mission. The additional launch, planned to take place by early 2018 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, will carry five Iridium Next satellites as well as the two satellites for the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission, a joint project of NASA and the German Research Center for Geosciences, known by the German acronym GFZ. (1/31)

A Busy February for SpaceX at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
SpaceX has scheduled a busy February in Central Florida. For the first time since an explosion crippled the company’s Florida launch operations, the company will launch a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station, followed closely by a commercial launch in February. The dates have not been finalized but SpaceX officials said Sunday that the first launch would happen no earlier than mid-February.

The second launch is also scheduled for February, although no date has been announced for that flight. The launch will be the first from Kennedy Space Center since the shuttle launched from there in 2011. A September 2016 launch pad explosion delayed the cargo resupply mission, known as CRS-10, as investigations were opened. It also accelerated the timeline for the use of 39A, which had previously been expected to remain dormant until SpaceX’s launch of astronauts, expected during the next few years. (1/30)

Hunting Dark Matter with GPS Data (Source: Science)
A team of physicists has used data from GPS satellites to hunt for dark matter, the mysterious stuff whose gravity appears to hold galaxies together. They found no signs of a hypothetical type of dark matter, which consists of flaws in the fabric of space called topological defects, the researchers reported here on Saturday at a meeting of the American Physical Society. But the physicists say they have vastly narrowed the characteristics for how the defects—if they exist—would interact with ordinary matter. Their findings show how surprisingly innovative—and, in this case, cheap—methods might be used to test new ideas of what dark matter might be. (1/31)

Technical Risks Threaten to Delay Mars 2020 Mission (Source: Space News)
A report released Jan. 30 by NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) identified several issues with the agency’s Mars 2020 rover mission that could delay its launch. The report said that while project managers remain confident that the $2.4 billion mission to collect samples for later return to Earth will be ready for launch in July 2020, a number of problems with the rover’s technologies and contributions from international partners could derail those plans.

The biggest risk to the mission, according to NASA OIG, is the sampling system that will be used to collect and store samples of Martian rock and soil that a future mission will gather for return to Earth. That system, an essential part of the mission, has several key technologies that are less mature than planned at this phase of the mission’s development. (1/31)

German Lawmaker: Trump White House Underscores Need for Europe’s Space Sovereignty (Source: Space News)
A member of Germany’s ruling party said the isolationist signals emanating from the Trump White House are reinforcing the need for Europe to be able to go it alone in space. “If we recognize the vibrations that the new U.S. government sends over the ocean to us — and maybe it’s not only a vibration — I think it’s very necessary more than ever before that we in Europe have our own capacity and our own competence to enter the space, to shoot satellites into space and to put together all the European competence you can find for a successful mission,” said Norbert Barthle. (1/31)

IAU 'Profoundly Concerned' About Trump's Immigration Ban (Source: Space.com)
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has joined the chorus of voices objecting to President Donald Trump's executive order that temporarily bans immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations. The IAU "is profoundly concerned by the impact the recent U.S. executive order, and possible reactions to it from other countries, could have on international collaboration in astronomy and the mobility of scientists," representatives of the organization wrote in a statement today (Jan. 30). (1/30)

Aerojet Rocketdyne Hiring 100 to Build New Rocket Engine in Alabama (Source: Huntsville Times)
Aerojet Rocketdyne said Monday it will produce a new rocket engine in Huntsville, Ala., resulting in 100 new jobs. The new engine, the ARI, is the latest engine in the company's stable of liquid rocket motors. It is aimed at replacing the Russian RD-180 engine now used by some American launch companies. The company says it is already testing engine systems and is on schedule to deliver a certified engine in 2019. That's the year Congress has ordered rocket companies to stop using the Russian engine. (1/31)

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