February 9, 2017

Female Sandia Employees Hit Lab With Gender Bias Suit (Source: Law360)
Three current and former employees of Sandia National Laboratories hit the Lockheed Martin subsidiary with a putative class action in New Mexico federal court on Tuesday, saying female employees are paid and promoted less than male counterparts in violation of Title VII. (2/8)

FAA Challenged by Growing Commercial Space Industry (Source: FCW)
Space traffic is on the rise. The FAA saw a 55 percent increase in the number of launch applications filed by private companies in fiscal 2016 compared to the year before, according to the agency's administrator. Those applications, according to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta’s remarks at the 20th Annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington, D.C., covered a range of ever-more diverse space vehicles from reusable and small-payload rockets, to high-altitude balloons and space vehicle carrier aircraft. (2/7)

Trump Advisers' Space Plan: To moon, Mars and Beyond (Source: Politico)
The Trump administration is considering a bold and controversial vision for the U.S. space program that calls for a "rapid and affordable" return to the moon by 2020, the construction of privately operated space stations and the redirection of NASA's mission to "the large-scale economic development of space," according to internal documents obtained by POLITICO.

The proposed strategy, whose potential for igniting a new industry appeals to Trump’s business background and job-creation pledges, is influencing the White House’s search for leaders to run the space agency. And it is setting off a struggle for supremacy between traditional aerospace contractors and the tech billionaires who have put big money into private space ventures.

"It is a big fight," said former Republican Rep. Robert Walker of Pennsylvania, who drafted the Trump campaign's space policy and remains involved in the deliberations. "There are billions of dollars at stake. It has come to a head now when it has become clear to the space community that the real innovative work is being done outside of NASA."

The early indications are that private rocket firms like Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and their supporters have a clear upper hand in what Trump's transition advisers portrayed as a race between "Old Space" and "New Space," according to emails among key players inside the administration. (2/7)

Black Hole Taking Over Decade to Devour Star (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Scientists have detected a black hole that's taken a record-breaking decade to devour a star — and it's still chewing away. The food fest is happening in a small galaxy 1.8 billion light-years from Earth. Black hole feeding frenzies have been observed since the 1990s, but they've lasted just a year. At 11 years and counting, this is the longest known one yet. (2/6)

Kids Can Have a Blast at Kennedy Space Center Camp (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Looking for a kids camp that's out of this world? Check out Camp Kennedy Space Center (KSC). Camp KSC is running a three-day spring break session April 12-14 for students in second through ninth grade. If those dates don't align with your school calendar, nine weeklong sessions will also be available this summer. (2/3)

Used SpaceX Booster Had a Successful Reflight Test (Source: Science Times)
SpaceX just had another out of this world record! Its engineers were able to successfully test-fire a used SpaceX booster, an orbit class rocket, last week in Texas. SpaceX engineers were researching for a reuse mission of SpaceX's Falcon 9's first stage booster. The said booster was initially launched into space in April 2016 and is planned to have a relaunch as early as next month. Space enthusiasts are looking forward to this endeavor of SpaceX as this will be the first ever reuse mission that will ever happen.

In this interest to have a reuse mission, SpaceX engineers studied the anatomy of the CRS-8 Falcon 9 that they've recovered 8 minutes after the said rocket had a propulsive soft landing. The said mission was actually for a signed project between SpaceX and Luxembourg-based telecommunications company SES. (2/9)

Orbital ATK Prepares for Minotaur Missions from Space Florida Launch Pad (Source: Orbital ATK)
Orbital ATK and Space Florida have invited reporters to see the completed stacking of the Minotaur IV inert pathfinder motors (three stages) at Space Florida's Launch Complex 46 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The pathfinder event will test the new pad infrastructure and stacking operations in preparation for the upcoming launch of Orbital ATK’s Minotaur IV vehicle carrying the Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space ORS-5 satellite out of LC-46. This would be the third orbital launch from the state-run facility. (2/9)

FAA Commercial Space Office Faces Budget Squeeze (Source: Space News)
The FAA’s commercial space office is worried that an anticipated budget increase this year, intended to allow it to hire more staff to keep up with a growing industry, may not be enacted. George Nield, the FAA associate administrator for commercial space transportation, said he was pleased last year when House and Senate versions of a fiscal year 2017 appropriations bill approved a $2 million increase for the Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST), to $19.8 million, included in the overall FAA budget request.

However, those bills did not become law, and the FAA, like most other federal government agencies, is operating through April under a continuing resolution that funds it at its lower fiscal year 2016 level. That creates a problem for AST, which has already hired additional staff in anticipation of that increase. (2/9)

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