March 24, 2017

Boom Gets a $33 Million Funding Boost for Supersonic Jet (Source: Denver Post)
So many investors wanted in on the supersonic jet in development in Centennial that Boom Technology decided to accept more funding than it set out to attract. It raised $33 million, the company plans to announce Wednesday. “We now have all the money we need to go and build an airplane,” Boom CEO and co-founder Blake Scholl said.

The plane, of course, is no ordinary aircraft. It intends to travel faster than last century’s Concorde, but will be smaller, lighter and cheaper. Boom says the future plane will travel faster than the speed of sound and fly from New York to London in 3 hours and 15 minutes — for $5,000 round trip. The lure of faster, affordable travel enticed investors, but their attraction to Boom is a supersonic jet that is feasible and marketable.

Investors in this Series A $33 million round lined up to partake. The latest round, which brings Boom’s total funding to $41 million, includes investment from 8VC, Caffeinated Capital, Palm Drive Ventures, RRE Ventures and technology accelerator Y Combinator. Y Combinator president Sam Altman and Greg McAdoo, formerly with Silicon Valley’s Sequoia Capital venture firm, will join Boom’s board. (3/22)

Here's How Florida Will Fill Hundreds of Aerospace Jobs (Source: Brevard Business News)
While some companies may face trouble finding the right kind of technology and manufacturing talent in Central Florida, one Brevard County group is hoping to lessen the pressure by building on one of its programs. Part of the solution comes from Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast program called Certified Production Technician that is mainly for manufacturing positions.

The Space Coast EDC told Orlando Business Journal that the pilot program started two years ago, but it officially launched late last year. The program is in partnership with Eastern Florida State College in Cocoa, which offers the courses for the certification. Discounts for the 10-week course's tuition are offered from Space Coast EDC. Since September, 71 students have participated in the program. The next class is scheduled to begin April 17. (3/21)

Weakness in FAA's Insurance Calculation May Expose the Government to Excess Risk (Source: SpaceRef)
The FAA has revised its method for calculating launch insurance requirements to address some known weaknesses. The amount of insurance required is based on FAA's calculation of the maximum loss that can be reasonably expected. FAA contractors found the following:

FAA's estimates of the number of casualties (serious injuries and deaths) that could result from a launch accident have likely been too high, and have been based on an unrealistic scenario; FAA's estimates of losses due to property damage may be too high in some cases, and too low in others; and FAA's estimate of the average cost of a casualty—referred to as the cost- of-casualty amount—is based on outdated information and is likely too low. The amount has been fixed at $3 million since 1988. Click here. (3/23)

NASA Selects CubeSat, SmallSat Mission Concept Studies (Source: Space Daily)
NASA has selected ten studies under the Planetary Science Deep Space SmallSat Studies (PSDS3) program, to develop mission concepts using small satellites to investigate Venus, Earth's moon, asteroids, Mars and the outer planets. Click here. (3/23)

Russian ISS Module Delayed For a Decade and Still Not Ready to Fly (Source: Popular Mechanics)
After years of delays, the Russian component of the International Space Station—which Roscosmos originally planned to deploy in 2007—finally looked like it was ready for launch. However another problem with the Multi-Purpose Laboratory Module (MLM) now threatens to derail a project that's already been plagued with them. The same severe contamination that's kept the MLM on the ground since 2013 has returned, Russian experts involved in the project said.

Dubbed Nauka (Russian for "science"), the MLM was designed to be a centerpiece of the Russian part of the ISS as well as the core of the post-ISS Russian station. Now that an ambitious future is once again under threat. The MLM was originally intended as a backup to the Russian Zarya module.

Fighting off political and logistical concerns surrounding the project—as well suggestions that they ground the MLM entirely until it can serve as the first module of Russia's own space station—the tedious cleanup and repair effort entered its final phase this year, and the module finally appeared on track for launch at the end of this year or, at the very latest, the first half of 2018. Then things went from bad to worse. Click here. (3/22)

Magical Thinking Won't Get You to Mars. (Washington Please Note) (Source: Time)
The 2033 target is nice, precise and buzzy, but for practical purposes it's meaningless. Start with the things we need to build — in some cases invent — before we get to Mars. After the SLS and Orion are complete, we still need: a habitat module for the outward-bound and return trips, radiation shielding, a landing module, a habitat for the surface, a pressurized rover, a greenhouse facility and a way to manufacture fuel, power and water onsite—infrastructure, in other words, that we can barely build on Earth. Click here. (3/23)

Ariane 5 Launch Halted Indefinitely as Kourou Labor Unrest Continues (Source: Space News)
An Ariane 5 launch already twice delayed by French Guiana labor unrest was put on indefinite hold Thursday as protests shut down roads, schools and municipal buildings in the South American territory that hosts Europe’s main spaceport.

Arianespace was slated to launch a pair of satellites for Brazil and South Korea on Tuesday evening from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana, but protests, road blockades and a strike by the space center’s transportation and logistics contractor Endel combined to prevent the Ariane 5 from rolling out to the launch zone.

Anticipating a swift resolution, Arianespace initially postponed the launch to Wednesday and then postponed it again to Thursday. Local newspaper France-Guyane reported Thursday morning that protesters expanded their roadblocks overnight, prompting the closure of area schools and government buildings. (3/23)

SSL Sues Rival Orbital ATK Over Theft of Trade Secrets (Source: Reuters)
Space Systems/Loral is suing rival Orbital ATK over an alleged theft of proprietary data and business plans for an in-space satellite servicing technology. The lawsuit is the second in six weeks involving the companies and their efforts to start a new industry servicing and repairing satellites in orbit.

At least four confidential SSL documents were viewed and distributed by an Orbital ATK employee working at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, where the data is stored as part of an ongoing SSL partnership with the U.S. space agency, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. (3/23)

Lockheed Martin Bringing VR-Equipped Mars Bus to Orlando (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Central Florida students and science enthusiasts will have several opportunities to virtually visit Mars during the next few weeks. Lockheed Martin, which employs more than 7,000 in the region, will bring its Mars Experience Bus to multiple Orlando locations in late March and early April.

The Mars Experience Bus is a standard school bus painted with landscapes of the Red Planet and cartoon astronauts. But when you step inside, all of the windows are equipped with virtual reality displays that recreate the Mars surface. As a driver starts to move, students can see the outside world. As they travel, however, all goes dark and the screens become virtual reality-based displays that simulate the landscape of Mars. (3/23)

China and Russia Test the U.S. in Space (Source: Aviation Week)
China and Russia are engaging in hybrid warfare in space, says a member of former President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council. “They are conducting probing, provocative actions just below the threshold of any meaningful U.S. or allied response,” charges Roger Robinson, who heads RWR Advisory Group, a security and business consultancy. (3/24)

Gravitational Waves Boot Gigantic Black Hole from Galaxy's Core (Source:
A supermassive black hole heftier than 1 billion suns has been ejected from the core of its galaxy by gravitational waves, a new study suggests. The monster black hole has already zoomed 35,000 light-years away from its galaxy's center, farther than Earth and its sun are from the core of our own Milky Way. And the behemoth is currently traveling outward at 4.7 million mph (7.6 million km/h) — fast enough for the black hole to escape its galaxy completely in 20 million years, researchers said. (3/23)

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