March 13, 2017

Spinning Out of the Shadows (Source: Space Review)
Last month, NASA issued a request for ideas of payloads that could fly on a mysterious satellite the agency was getting from elsewhere in the government. Dwayne Day traces that satellite back to a National Reconnaissance Office program that briefly exited the black world nearly two decades ago. Click here. (3/13)
SpaceX at 15 (Source: Space Review)
By some accounts, this week marks the 15th anniversary of the founding of SpaceX. Jeff Foust examines the company’s legacy to date in shaking up the space industry, for better or for worse. Click here. (3/13)
America Needs a Space Corps (Source: Space Review)
Military space programs have suffered from the perception they are considered less important by the US Air Force than aircraft. M.V. “Coyote” Smith argues that, to elevate the importance of space, it needs its own independent service within the military. Click here. (3/13)
Moon Launches and Circuses: Seeking Presidential Leadership Yet Again (Source: Space Review)
All eyes are on Washington to see what the Trump Administration might propose for NASA’s budget in 2018 and what new initiatives it might offer. Roger Handberg says that history suggests we should treat such proposals skeptically. Click here. (3/13)
Road-Tripping to the Birthplace of Space Reconnaissance (Source: Space Review)
The site of a classified military space facility known as the “Blue Cube” is now home to a college and a government building. Joseph T. Page II visits the former Blue Cube site to see how its legacy has been preserved there. Click here. (3/13)

Trump, with NASA, Has a New Rocket and Spaceship. Where’s He Going to Go? (Source: Washington Post)
NASA is building a jumbo rocket. It’s called the Space Launch System, or simply the SLS. The new rocket will have to survive the unpredictable crosswinds of Washington. President Trump is now in charge of the space program, and no one in Washington seems to have a clear idea what’s going to happen next. Trump has expressed interest in President Kennedy’s vow in 1961 to put Americans on the moon. Thus everyone expects Trump to try to create a “Kennedy moment.”

Trump hasn’t nominated anyone yet to lead NASA, nor has he picked a science adviser. He is expected to issue an executive order re-forming the long-disbanded National Space Council, which would be headed by Vice President Pence and oversee civilian and military space programs. In the meantime, civil servants at NASA headquarters are reexamining the current human spaceflight schedule to see whether there’s a way to do something dramatic before the end of Trump’s term.

Huge aerospace corporations, including Boeing and Lockheed Martin, have contracts for this hardware. The Alabama factor comes into play. The SLS is based at NASA Marshall, in Huntsville, the historic center of American rocketry. The Trump administration has a number of influential Alabamians, starting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Two former Sessions senate staffers, Stephen Miller and Rick Dearborn, work in the White House. (3/12)

Firefly Systems Assets to Be Auctioned on Thursday (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The assets of Firefly Systems will be auctioned off on Thursday, March 16, in California. Notice of the auction has been posted by Development Specialists, Inc. There also is a classified advertisement in USA Today. The company had been developing a small satellite launch vehicle before it suspended operations in September due to financial difficulties.

Virgin Galactic had launched litigation against Firefly co-founder Thomas Markusic, who had previously led Virgin’s effort to develop a competing launcher. Virgin claims that Markusic took intellectual property when he left the company in 2014. (3/12)

Bombshell NASA Photos ‘Prove Alien Bases Exist on Moon’ – and They Can Move (Source: Daily Star)
YouTube channel SecureTeam 10 claims photos taken from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter may prove the extraterrestrial life exists. In several shots, mysterious circular objects are captured on the camera and these are the main area of focus for Tyler Glockner. “This object on the surface almost looks like part of some sort of nuclear reactor – with these long smoke stacks,” he says in the video, uploaded earlier today. (3/13)

10 'Innovative' Space Firms Make Fast Company's Annual Roundup (Source:
Fast Company's annual list of the "50 Most Innovative Companies" includes a firm working to make sense of a flood of data coming from space. The Mountain View, California-based Orbital Insight is taking the deluge of images coming from Earth-imaging satellites and channeling them into useful and lucrative data.

The company "analyzes more than a million square kilometers of high-resolution imagery on a monthly basis from eight of the largest satellite constellations in orbit, and then uses machine-vision algorithms to put hard numbers on everything from the amount of water in reservoirs to the number of active fracking sites in North Dakota to the depth of poverty in Sri Lanka," Fast Company wrote in its March issue. Click here. (3/10)

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