January 4, 2017

FAA Reviewing SpaceX Results Before Clearing Return to Flight (Source: Aviation Week)
SpaceX hopes to return its Falcon 9 to flight this month after determining the supercold propellant temperatures it uses to boost performance contributed to the costly on-pad explosion during launch preparations Sept. 1, 2016, but must await final FAA action before scheduling a launch.

The California-based company has targeted Sunday, Jan. 8, for liftoff from Vandenberg AFB, California, with the first 10 Iridium NEXT low Earth orbit communications satellites on board, after delivering its final mishap report to the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Office. The office, which licenses U.S. commercial space launch activities, participated in the mishap investigation and is reviewing the company’s plans to launch again.

“The FAA has received the mishap investigation report from SpaceX and it is under review,” the office stated Tuesday. “The FAA continues to work closely with SpaceX as they conduct the investigation and prepare for future Falcon 9 launches, in compliance with all applicable regulations and license requirements. The FAA has not yet issued a license to SpaceX for a launch in January.” (1/3)

NASA Selects Mission to Study Black Holes, Cosmic X-Ray Mysteries (Source: Space Daily)
NASA has selected a science mission that will allow astronomers to explore, for the first time, the hidden details of some of the most extreme and exotic astronomical objects, such as stellar and supermassive black holes, neutron stars and pulsars. Objects such as black holes can heat surrounding gases to more than a million degrees. The high-energy X-ray radiation from this gas can be polarized - vibrating in a particular direction.

The Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission will fly three space telescopes with cameras capable of measuring the polarization of these cosmic X-rays, allowing scientists to answer fundamental questions about these turbulent and extreme environments where gravitational, electric and magnetic fields are at their limits. (1/4)

Mission Contracts Secure Commercial Crew Operations for Coming Years (Source: Space Daily)
NASA took another big step to ensure reliable crew transportation to the International Space Station into the next decade. The agency's Commercial Crew Program has awarded an additional four crew rotation missions each to commercial partners, Boeing and SpaceX, to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

The four additional missions will fly following NASA certification. They fall under the current Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contracts, and bring the total number of missions awarded to each provider to six. The additional flights will allow the commercial partners to plan for all aspects of these missions while fulfilling space station transportation needs. The awards do not include payments at this time. (1/4)

China Plans Nearly 30 Launches in 2017 (Source: GB Times)
China plans to conduct nearly 30 launches in 2017. The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation told state-run media in China Tuesday that those launches will include flights of the new Long March 5 and Long March 7 rocket. Key missions planned for launch in 2017 include the Chang'e-5 lunar sample return mission and the first flight of a Tianzhou cargo spacecraft to the Tiangong-2 lab module. China carried out 22 launches in 2016, a new national record and tied with the United States for the most launches in the year. (1/3)

Strategy Adopted for NEO Risks (Source: Space Policy Online)
The White House issued a new strategy Tuesday for dealing with the risks posed by near Earth objects (NEOs). The Detecting and Mitigating the Impacts of Earth-Bound Near-Earth Objects (DAMIEN) strategy, developed by an interagency working group, sets out a series of goals regarding the detection of NEOs, development of approaches for deflecting threatening NEOs and emergency procedures in the event of an impact. The strategy document will be followed by an action plan to be updated every three years. (1/3)

How Can Humans Clean Up Our Space Junk? (Source: The Verge)
Humans filled waterways, landfills, and streets with trash, so it’s no surprise the same thing happened in Earth’s orbital neighborhood. Now our species will finally take a crack at cleaning up.

Some missions focus on dead satellites, aiming to catch them with robotic arms, spear them with harpoons, or slow them with sails or tethers. Others aim for smaller pieces with lasers or stick to them with adhesive. It’s all an effort to keeping low-Earth orbit, the region up to 1,200 miles from the surface, usable. “Keeping all this litter in space, it’s like litter on the floor,” said Jason Forshaw a research fellow at the University of Surrey. “It’s becoming more of a risk.” Click here. (12/30)

Air Force Capt. Dechert Earns 2017 NSCFL McCartney Award (Source: NSCFL)
The National Space Club Florida Committee (NSCFL) has named U.S. Air Force Capt. Joseph R. Dechert as its Forrest S. McCartney National Defense Space Award honoree for 2017. The award is named for the late Forrest McCartney, a former director of the Kennedy Space Center and retired Air Force lieutenant general. The award recognizes significant achievements and contributions made by Department of Defense personnel while on duty in the State of Florida.
Dechert is a Flight Mission Lead for the 5th Space Launch Squadron at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. During 2016 he coordinated the launch site activities required to successfully send seven Atlas 5 and three Delta 4 satellite delivery missions into space. Dechert will be honored Jan. 10 during the NSCFL's monthly luncheon, which begins at 11:30 a.m. EST and will be held at the Radisson at the Port Convention Center, Cape Canaveral. The luncheon is open to the public. Tickets are $20 for NSCFL members and $30 for non-members. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit the NSCFL website at www.nscfl.org. (1/3)

Uncertainty Is The Name Of The Game For Aerospace In 2017 (Source: Aviation Week)
Aerospace has always played a long game. Aircraft and systems can take decades to develop and serve for decades more. But the industry is having to learn to cope with short plays and unconventional tactics to hit the emerging political curveballs.

As the new year begins, it is already hard to predict how 2017 will end. The U.S. has elected a president who does not follow established protocols. The UK has voted to leave the EU after more than 40 years. Governments across Europe and elsewhere are facing similar challenges to the status quo. (12/23)

How Will Religion Affect the Future of Space Exploration? (Source: World Religious News)
The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) is a nonprofit research center that conducts social scientific studies about the Catholic Church. CARA recently collaborated with GfK Custom Research to conduct a survey showing religious attitudes on space exploration. Among the questions asked were “Do you believe the Earth’s demise is ultimately something we can understand and predict scientifically or something in God’s hands and therefore unpredictable?” and “Do you believe that the destiny of human life is somewhere other than Earth or here on Earth?”

Responses from the survey were correlated with other studies and opinions done on people from diverse religions to show the different religious attitudes on space exploration. Click here. (12/27)

Trump Insists North Korean Intercontinental Missile ‘Won’t Happen' (Source: Washington Post)
President-elect Donald Trump contended Monday night that North Korea would not be able to develop a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the United States, despite its claims to the contrary, and berated China for not doing enough to help stop the rogue state's weapons program.

Trump's declarations on Twitter came after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in a New Year's address that the country had reached the “final stages” of testing its first intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the United States. “It won't happen!” Trump tweeted. Editor's Note: Having launched multiple satellites into orbit, one might argue that North Korea already has a rocket capable of intercontinental nuclear payload delivery. (1/3)

NASA Cooperating With Russia on Progress MS-04 Investigation (Source: Sputnik)
The accident concerns the security of both Russian and American crew members on board the International Space Station (ISS), which is why NASA specialists are cooperating with Roscosmos, a NASA spokesperson told the Russian Izvestia newspaper on Thursday.

General Director of S. P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia Vladimir Solntsev explained to Izvestia that the Progress MS-04 accident occurred within a record-short time frame, which is one of the reasons why US specialists are helping Russia investigate it. Earlier this month, Roscosmos confirmed the loss of Progress MS-04 space freighter after a faulty launch from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan. The spacecraft was carrying more than 2.6 metric tons of food, fuel, and supplies for the Expedition 50 crew aboard the International Space Station. (12/29)

New Mexico County OK's Key Step to Spaceport America Southern Road (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
An improved southern road to Spaceport America is edging closer to reality with a recent approval by the Doña Ana County commission. And one more authorization — expected to be the last before Doña Ana County can go forward with the bid process leading to construction — is likely to come in January, officials said. Construction could start late spring or early summer of 2017 on the 24-mile route, officials said.

An improved southern road to Spaceport America is believed to be key to Doña Ana County benefiting economically from the spaceport and important to the spaceport's success because it would drastically cut the drive time to the southeastern Sierra County facility from Las Cruces, the nearest large city. (1/2)

Is Creating a National Space Council the Best Choice? (Source: Space Review)
The incoming Trump Administration is considering re-establishing the National Space Council, based on campaign statements. John Logsdon recounts the checkered history of the council and examines if it is the best mechanism for coordinating space policy. Click here. (1/3) 
A Taste of Armageddon (Source: Space Review)
In February 1969, US analysts were expecting the Soviets to launch a circumlunar mission of some kind in a last-minute bid to beat the Americans to the moon. Charles Vick and Dwayne Day describe the intelligence that went into that assessment, and also what they missed. Click here. (1/3)
The Path to the Infinite Economy (Source: Space Review)
What the incoming Trump Administration will do in space policy remains a topic of speculation in the space community. Andrew Gasser describes how the new administration should focus on public-private partnerships to create a more effective space program. Click here. (1/3)
How China’s Seizure of a Naval Drone Could Set a Precedent for Nabbing a Satellite in Orbit (Source: Space Review)
Last month, the Chinese navy seized a US Navy robotic submersible and held it for a brief time. David Chen argues that episode could provide a precedent for China to do something similar with a satellite. Click here. (1/3)
More Trek, Less Wars (Source: Space Review)
A new Star Wars movie has attracted large audiences since its debut last month. Dwayne Day, though, suggests that it’s Star Trek that offer the stronger connections to spaceflight, and a much-needed optimistic philosophy about the future. Click here. (1/3)

Adopting A Sci-Fi Way Of Thinking About The Future (Source: NPR)
The second day of January is National Science Fiction Day, an unofficial holiday that corresponds with the official birthdate of Isaac Asimov, the enormously influential and prolific scientist and writer of science fiction.

The start of the new year is also a good moment to reflect on the future — an exercise familiar to both writers and readers of science fiction. But where New Year's resolutions typically extend over weeks or months, the imagined futures of science fiction usually unfold years or centuries from the present. Interstellar travel and space colonization, if they come at all, aren't coming in 2017. Click here. (1/23)

Trump Pledges End to Sequestration (Source: Military Times)
President-elect Donald Trump says his administration will do away with sequestration. "This will be an important story to watch in the year ahead, whether the next administration can work with Congress to find a solution to the much-reviled 2011 law that established the 10-year budget caps," writes Leo Shane. (12/30)

North Korea Closer to ICBM Than Previously Thought (Source: Reuters)
Experts say North Korea's claim that it is close to testing an intercontinental ballistic missile could be more than just a bluff. "The bottom line is Pyongyang is much further along in their missile development than most people realize," said Melissa Hanham of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. (1/2)

China To Research Heavy Launchers (Source: Aviation Week)
China will develop what it calls heavy-lift space launchers after preliminary research into enabling technologies, including powerful engines burning kerosene with liquid oxygen, according to a new statement. (1/3)

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