January 9, 2017

Mystery of Russia’s Doomed Progress Spacecraft May Delay Next ISS Crew Launch (Source: Planetary)
More than a month after a Progress spacecraft bound for the International Space Station plunged to the ground during a botched launch attempt, investigators are still unable to clear its rocket to carry future ISS crews, industry sources said.

The Progress MS-04 spacecraft was lost December 1 after its Soyuz-U rocket apparently experienced a catastrophic breakup during launch. The Soyuz-U is virtually identical to the Soyuz-FG variant, the only launcher certified to deliver cosmonauts and astronauts to orbit. The next international crew is slated to depart for the station on March 27, but until officials clear the rocket for a return-to-flight, that mission may not be going anywhere.

Two days after the launch accident, the Roscosmos State Corporation promised to complete an investigation of the failure by December 20. However, despite some progress in understanding the sequence of events during the crash, the root cause of the failure remains elusive. (1/5)

FSDC Plans Benefit Screening of Hidden Figures on Martin Luther King Holiday (Source: FSDC)
The Florida Space Development Council invites the public to join in a special MLK Jr. Holiday special screening of the motion picture Hidden Figures, at the Premier Oaks 10 Theater in Melbourne. Proceeds from ticket sales, donations and sponsorships will help fund a rocket competition for disadvantaged girls, in grades 7-12, interested in STEM careers. The winner of the competition will go on to compete in the National Competition in Huntsville, AL.

Hidden Figures, tells an untold story of African-American women, and Brevard natives, who worked as human computers, supporting the Apollo program. The #LaunchTheDream initiative aims to develop and promote diversity in STEM and space sciences, by engaging Florida’s students with hands-on STEM activities. Tickets and sponsorship donations can be registered through the event page: https://launchthedream.eventbrite.com (1/9)

The Best Place on Earth to Fire 3,000 Rockets Into Outer Space Is... (Source: Wall Street Journal)
The next generation of satellite executives dream of firing a rocket a week into the skies. But they’re running up against an unusual problem for star trekkers. A lack of space. “We went to all the launch ranges in America,” said Peter Beck, a wiry-haired engineer who a decade ago founded Calif.-based aerospace company Rocket Lab. “They just didn’t allow the frequency that we needed in order to make space accessible for everybody.”

Finding an empty corner of the world isn’t easy for an industry expected to launch as many as 3,000 microsatellites over the next several years. Take out flight paths of commercial airlines, shipping routes, towns and cities and the map shrinks pretty quickly. In the U.S., orbital launch sites are government owned, which represents another drawback in terms of cost and access. There’s Siberia, of course, but the idea of taking commercially sensitive technology to Russia makes some executives uneasy, before factoring in difficulties in getting there.

“A small island nation in the middle of nowhere,” said Mr. Beck, “is pretty much exactly what you want.” Welcome to New Zealand: earthquake-prone, dotted with volcanoes and containing six times as many sheep as people. The country doesn’t even have a combat air force, having scrapped its warplanes about 15 years ago to save money. Click here. (1/9)

Should NASA Build Spacefaring Logistics Infrastructure? (Source: Space Review)
There’s a recent, renewed push for developing space infrastructure, including a recent commentary endorsed by Jeff Bezos. Mike Snead supports that idea, but doesn’t believe it should be the responsibility of NASA to do so. Click here. (1/9)
Fixing the US Space Exploration Program (Source: Space Review)
The future of NASA’s human spaceflight program is one of the key concerns of the space community as Donald Trump prepares to take office. Roger Handberg describes why that future will likely require greater cooperation with other nations. Click here. (1/9)
Decision Time for the Thirty Meter Telescope (Source: Space Review)
Construction of one of the world’s largest telescopes atop a Hawaiian mountain has been stalled by protests and legal disputes. Jeff Foust reports that the observatory’s partners may soon have to make a decision about staying in Hawaii or moving to an alternate site. Click here. (1/9)
Mars is Awful (Source: Space Review)
Mars is widely seen as the long-term destination for human spaceflight, but is it the best place for people to go? J. Morgan Qualls that there’s much more to be done in cislunar space and elsewhere before thinking about going to Mars. Click here. (1/9)

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