March 3, 2017

Human Moon Missions Could be on the Horizon Under Trump (Source: PBS)
Is there renewed focus inside the Trump administration, NASA and the private sector to revive travel to the moon? There are signs, like a single reference in President Trump's address to Congress, that seem to suggest that a space journey may be sooner than we might think. Science correspondent Miles O’Brien joins Judy Woodruff to discuss what we could learn and why it’s back on the table. Click here. (3/1)

Bezos Says NASA Should Return to the Moon, and He’s Ready to Help (Source: Ars Technica)
Until the last year, Jeff Bezos has kept the plans for his rocket company, Blue Origin, largely under wraps. Since then, he has talked about doing suborbital space tourism flights, building an orbital rocket, and now he has begun to open up about ambitions beyond low Earth orbit. And unlike SpaceX and its Mars ambitions, Blue Origin has its focus on the Moon.

he proposal outlines a plan to build a lunar spacecraft and lander to deliver supplies to the South Pole of the Moon, where scientists believe there are abundant ice resources and almost continuous solar energy. Bezos said this enterprise could only be done in concert with NASA and that his company would help establish cost-effective tools to carry out the development of a lunar settlement. The spacecraft could launch on an Atlas 551 rocket built by ULA.

Alternatively, it could go up on NASA's under-development Space Launch System, which could deliver considerably more payload, more quickly. Significantly, Bezos said he was also ready to put his own skin into the game. "I’m excited about this and am ready to invest my own money alongside NASA to make it happen," the white paper states. (3/3)

Bezos: In Future, Humans Will Build All Heavy Manufacturing In Space (Source: Aviation Week)
Bezos’ vision of using ever larger reusable rockets to send an entire economy into Earth orbit and beyond is discussed in this Aviation Week video interview. Click here. (3/3)

Scientists to Trump: Appoint a Science Advisor (Source: The Scientist)
As President Trump continues to announce Cabinet picks, scientists are requesting that he choose a Science Advisor, and soon. “We urge you to make appointing a Science Advisor an immediate priority,” reads a February 24 letter signed by thousands of researchers and science supporters, in an effort led by the American Geophysical Union. “Appointing a Science Advisor quickly will enable the Administration to maximize investments in science and develop a strategic plan that secures America’s leadership in science.”

Prior to the inauguration, Trump and members of his transition team met with computer scientist David Gelernter of Yale and, separately, with Princeton physicist William Happer. In interviews with The Scientist, both men expressed skepticism over the widely recognized, evidence-based consensus that humans are contributing to climate change. Donna Nelson, an organic chemist at the University of Oklahoma, was also contacted by—but did not meet with—Trump’s transition team. (3/1)

Why Richard Branson’s Newest Space Company Could Be a Lucrative Venture (Source: Fortune)
Virgin Group’s commercial space venture, Galactic Ventures, has spun off one of its projects into a new company called Virgin Orbit. And it could end up being its most lucrative. Virgin Orbit will focus on launching small satellites into space using its LauncherOne orbital launch vehicle. This vehicle is essentially a 747-400 airplane designed to launch a rocket from under its wing.

Galactic Ventures has largely focused on commercial space tourism through its company Virgin Galactic, and The Spaceship Company, which is working on future spacecraft and designed and built SpaceShipTwo—the craft that will carry space tourists. This new company reflects two trends: the development of mini-satellites and the growing demand by companies to gain access to space in a more cost-effective way.

Editor's Note: India recently launched over 100 microsatellites on a single rocket. SpaceX is selling entire Falcon-9 missions to carry clusters of microsatellites. And every other medium/large rocket maker seems to be offering multi-payload rides for microsatellites. NASA also accommodates microsatellite launches as cargo brought to (and ejected from) the Space Station. So does this represent an overcapacity that could impact companies like Virgin Orbit, Vector Space, Rocket Lab, Rocket Crafters, FireFly, and others? (3/3)

Spaceflight Reschedules Launch of 89 Satellites (Source: Parabolic Arc)
While Elon Musk keeps adding missions to the moon and Mars to SpaceX’s already crowded launch manifest, a Seattle company has been forced to find alternative rides to space for 89 satellites originally booked to launch on a Falcon 9 booster. The small spacecraft were set to be deployed using Spaceflight’s SHERPA carrier, which would have been a secondary payload on Taiwan’s Formosat-5 satellite. The launch was originally scheduled for the end of 2015, but it recently suffered yet another delay. (3/3)

CubeSats: Shaping Possibilities in Space (Source: Parabolic Arc)
For more than a decade, CubeSats, or small satellites, have paved the way to low-Earth orbit for commercial companies, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations. These small satellites offer opportunities to conduct scientific investigations and technology demonstrations in space in such a way that is cost-effective, timely and relatively easy to accomplish. Click here. (3/3)

FCC Gets Five New Applications for Non-Geostationary Satellite Constellations (Source: Space News)
Boeing’s plan to deploy a constellation of V-band satellites in non-geostationary orbit has prompted at least five companies, including SpaceX and OneWeb, to file me-too proposals with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. The FCC had given companies until March 1 to disclose whether they also had plans to use the same V-band that Boeing had applied for in November of last year.

The five companies — SpaceX, OneWeb, Telesat, O3b Networks and Theia Holdings — all told the FCC they have plans to field constellations of V-band satellites in non-geosynchronous orbits to provide communications services in the United States and elsewhere. So far the V-band spectrum of interest, which sits directly above Ka-band from about 37 GHz to the low 50 GHz range, has not been heavily employed for commercial communications services. (3/2)

Traveling to the Moon? You'll Vomit Non-Stop and Constantly Want to Pee (Source: Asia One)
Non-stop vomiting, a puffy face and the constant need to pee: Volunteers for a week-long loop around the Moon may be in for a rough ride even if all goes to plan. In the week that SpaceX announced it would launch two tourists to skirt Earth's satellite in 2018, experts agreed the health effects would chiefly be minor and short-lived. These are the stakes:

"Like every single astronaut who goes into space, they're going to get... very bad motion sickness," Daniel Grant of the Center for Altitude Space and Extreme Environment Medicine in London, told AFP. This is because the balance sensors in the inner ear which tell us which way is up and down, get all confused in zero gravity. Some astronauts get over it within hours, while others need days - clearly a problem for a trip lasting only a week. (3/2)

New Law Aims to Expand Japan’s Space Business (Source:
The Space Activities Act, enacted last November, establishes procedures for licensing and supervision of rocket and satellite launches by private-sector companies. It also provides for government compensation to augment liability insurance coverage against accidents. The aim is to promote broad private-sector participation in space business. Click here. (3/3)

Baidu's CEO Wants China's Help on Robot Cars and a Local SpaceX (Source: Bloomberg)
China needs to put new regulations and financial subsidies in place to quicken the development of autonomous cars or risk getting left behind, the billionaire co-founder of the nation’s largest search engine said. Baidu Inc. Chief Executive Officer Robin Li wants Beijing to take the lead in getting Chinese enterprises to collaborate on research and craft a regulatory framework.

His proposal was included among a raft of others he will put forth at an annual meeting of regulators this week, in a wish-list that includes a dream of seeing a Chinese private space-exploration leader -- a la Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Li  lamented the state of China’s space industry. As with self-driving cars, he wants Beijing to enact policies to encourage private investment in rocket and satellite production and launch technology. (3/3)

India is Launching its Second Moon Mission Early Next Year (Source: Mashable)
India is gearing up for its second moon mission next year, a decade after its first. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is now testing out its lunar landing system to be sure it can safely touchdown on the moon's surface. Chandrayaan 2, as the mission is titled, is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2018, ISRO chief AS Kiran Kumar said. Chandrayaan 2 will deliver an orbiter, lander and rover to the moon. It is an advanced version of the first lunar (Chandrayaan-1) mission that India launched in Oct. 2008.

While the former had only orbited the moon, the second mission will include the 6-foot-long rover that will analyze the moon's dirt from the lunar surface. The ISRO facilities in Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu and in Chitradurga district near Bangalore, India's Silicon Valley, are being used for testing, and scientists have developed an artificial crater which simulates the moon's surface, Kiran Kumar said. (3/3)

NASA Mars Satellite Shifts Course to Avoid Hitting Planet's Moon (Source: Reuters)
A NASA science satellite orbiting Mars was forced to make a rare evasive maneuver to avoid a collision next week with one of the planet's two small moons, the U.S. space agency said. Flight controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, commanded the MAVEN spacecraft, which is studying Mars' vanishing atmosphere, to fire up its engine on Tuesday to boost its speed by about 1.3 feet per second (0.4 meters per second).

The acceleration was necessary to slightly shift MAVEN's orbit and steer the satellite clear of the Martian moon Phobos, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said in a statement. Without the tweak, MAVEN and the small, lumpy moon would have reached the same point in space within seven seconds of one another next Monday, March 6. (3/2)

Small Experimental Satellite Launched by New Chinese Rocket (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
China debuted a new solid-fueled booster Thursday in an unannounced flight that put a small satellite into polar orbit, adding another rocket to the country’s growing fleet of lightweight launchers. The KT-2 rocket lifted off from the Jiuquan space center, a military-run base in northwestern China’s Gobi Desert.

Little is known about the KT-2 rocket’s design. The multi-stage booster could be based on technology developed for the Chinese military’s road-mobile DF-31 ballistic missile, with the addition of an upper stage to place an object into orbit. The rocket was developed by China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp., or CASIC, with the intention of eventually launching commercial satellites.

China has developed several new small satellite launchers in recent years. The Long March 11 rocket, managed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, another state-owned space contractor, debuted in 2015. The Kuaizhou 1 booster, another CASIC product, has launched satellites three times since 2013 with two different variants. The KT-2’s inaugural mission was the third Chinese space launch of the year, and the second from Jiuquan. (3/3)

Trump Signs Bills to Boost Women, Girls in STEM (Source: The Journal)
Only 26 percent of women who obtain STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) degrees work in STEM jobs. New legislation coming out of the Oval Office earlier this week seeks to tackle this issue by creating new opportunities for these women, as well as girls who are interested pursuing STEM and entrepreneurial careers. President Donald Trump signed two bills Tuesday — both introduced by women in Congress — aimed at recruiting more women for STEM fields.

First, the Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers Women Act (INSPIRE Act), proposed by Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA), authorizes NASA administrators to encourage K–12 female students to participate in the aerospace field. The bill highlights a few of NASA’s existing mentorship and outreach programs as examples.

The second measure, Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act, authorizes the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support entrepreneurial programs for women. It was introduced by Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) and gives NSF authority to expand programs that “recruit and support women to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and into the commercial world,” according to the bill. (3/3)

Bezos’s Plan to Set Up Amazon-Like Delivery for ‘Future Human Settlement’ of the Moon (Source: Washington Post)
Bezos and Blue Origin have been circulating a seven-page white paper to NASA leadership and President Trump's transition team about the company's interest in developing a lunar spacecraft with a lander that would touch down near a crater at the south pole where there is water and nearly continuous sunlight for solar energy.

The memo urges NASA to back an Amazon-like shipment service for the moon that would deliver gear for experiments, cargo and habitats by mid-2020, helping to enable “future human settlement” of the moon. Blue Origin’s proposal, dated Jan. 4, doesn’t involve flying humans, but rather is focused on a series of cargo missions. Those could deliver the equipment necessary to help establish a human colony on the moon — unlike the Apollo missions, in which the astronauts left “flags and footprints” and then came home.

The prospect of a lunar mission has several companies lining up to provide not just transportation, but also habitats, science experiments and even the ability to mine the moon for resources. ULA has also been working on plans to create a transportation network to the area around the moon, known as cislunar space. Bigelow Aerospace, a maker of inflatable space habitats, said his company could create a depot that could orbit the moon by 2020, housing supplies and medial facilities, as well as humans. Click here. (3/2)

Automated Flight Safety Improving Space Access (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
The Eastern Range is changing the way it handles flight safety to satisfy a wider array of customers. Every rocket launched has a feature on board that can command the vehicle to self-destruct: a flight termination system. Until 2017, however, the actual command to destroy a rocket came manually from the Range Safety Officer on the ground. The Autonomous Flight Safety System or AFSS, puts the control in the hands of a computer on board the rocket.

The AFSS is a self-contained, independent system mounted to a launch vehicle. The system’s computer determines if the launch vehicle poses an unacceptable hazard to people or property by using pre-established, programmed mission rules developed by range safety flight analysts. If the computer determines that the rocket is a danger to public safety, it activates a series of controlled explosions to immediately stop the vehicle’s forward progress.

While reducing the number of controllers on the ground, AFSS also provides greater flight termination control further downrange than would be possible by activating the system remotely. Because the controls are aboard the rocket, a flight termination command can also be issued more quickly. The onboard capability also means AFSS can operate over the horizon, so flight termination is no longer limited by ground equipment sending signals by line of sight. (3/2)

Takeaways From NASA Cloud Security Audit (Source: Law 360)
The greatest risk to your organization’s most valuable data comes from insider threats. The IBM 2016 Cyber Security Intelligence Index noted that 60 percent of all cybersecurity incidents and data breaches recorded in 2015 resulted from the actions of insiders, with approximately 45 percent resulting from malicious insiders and the remaining 15 percent resulting from inadvertent actors. The concern over insider threats transcends industries, including defense, financial, health and manufacturing. (3/1)

Thinking Big: China Hopes to Conduct 2nd Mission to Mars by 2030 (Source: Space Daily)
China is likely to conduct its second Mars mission, aimed at collecting soil samples for analysis, by 2030, according to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). CASC consultant Ye Peijian said China hoped to collect samples of Mars' soil and bring them back to Earth to conduct scientific analyses of the red planet's structure and environment as well as to measure the possibilities for construction on Mars by 2030. (3/3)

Blast Off on a Virtual Space Vacation with the Intergalactic Travel Bureau (Source:
Have you ever wanted to take a vacation in space, but don't have the rockets or funds to make that happen? If so, the Intergalactic Travel Bureau has got you covered with a new virtual reality app. The mock travel agency created by the U.K.-based organization Guerilla Science is launching a new virtual reality app that allows anyone with a smartphone and a simple VR viewer to visit the moon, Mars, Europa and more!

Guided tours of these space destinations feature imagery created from NASA data, so for most Earthlings, these tours are as close as they can possibly get to visiting these alien worlds. "This virtual reality app will finally make space vacations accessible to all," Jana Grcevich, an astrophysicist who works at the Intergalactic Travel Bureau, said in a statement. (3/2)

Lockheed's Satellite Boost System Is Under U.S. Air Force Review (Source: Bloomberg)
The U.S. Air Force has opened a review of the propulsion systems used for Lockheed Martin Corp.’s military satellites after an undisclosed problem during a recent attempt to boost one into orbit, according to the service. The review has delayed once again the Air Force’s acceptance of Lockheed’s first new Global Positioning System satellite, which is already 34 months late. The most recent delivery goal had been Feb. 28, and the plan remains to launch it by spring of 2018. (3/2)

Boeing OKs Buyouts for 1,805 Union Workers, and More Job Cuts are Expected (Source: GeekWire)
Boeing has approved buyouts for 1,805 union workers, marking the start of a new round of job reductions that’s expected to continue through the year. The voluntary layoffs include 1,500 machinists and 305 engineers, representatives of the workers’ unions told GeekWire today. Boeing Commercial Airplanes is reducing non-union positions as well, but the company isn’t providing numbers for those classifications.

A spokeswoman for Machinists Union District 751, Connie Kelliher, said her union doesn’t know how many more will be laid off this year. She said about 1,000 machinists took voluntary buyouts last year, but there were no forced layoffs. The 1,805 buyouts approved as of the end of February will take effect over the course of the rest of the year, typically starting in April. (3/2)

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