April 19, 2017

SpaceX To Launch Cameras To Capture Virtual Reality Videos Of Outer Space (Source: Science World Report)
According to experts, being in space provides a whole new perspective toward the very existence of human beings. It is also an uplifting out-of-the-world experience that supposedly makes astronauts better human beings. In an effort to bring this experience to common people, SpaceX is going to launch a set of cameras that can capture and transmit virtual reality videos of outer space.

The program is aimed toward providing an opportunity to people who can never dream of being astronauts and to see their real place in the universe. SpaceVR has developed a thermos-like device, which is embedded with eight cameras (four at each end). These virtual reality cameras are designed to get a 360-degree view of outer space. SpaceVR is planning to launch the cameras by August, aboard a SpaceX rocket. (4/17)

Brits Could Launch Into Space from Wales in Just 3 Years (Source: Daily Mail)
Tourists wanting to holiday in space could be set to blast off in just three years from a remote field in Wales. Mission chiefs see sleepy Snowdonia as the UK's answer to Cape Canaveral in Florida - and have drawn up plans to make it the country's first spaceport. They say the destination is leading Britain's space race and could be ready to launch commercial trips to space in 2020. (4/17)

Constellations of Debris (Source: Guardian)
Large constellations of communications satellites could create a dramatic increase in orbital debris. A new study simulating the effects of new satellite systems found that constellations of thousands of satellites could result in a 50 percent increase in the number of collisions between satellites and debris. European officials, holding a conference on space debris this week in Germany, are concerned that such systems may not give much thought to ways to mitigate those risks, such as deorbiting satellites at the end of their lives. (4/17)

Mars Lander Debris Could Impede Sampling Missions (Source: Seeker)
Others are worried about space junk on Mars. A new paper said that debris jettisoned by spacecraft as they land on Mars, such as parachutes and heat shields, could complicate future sample return missions. Those components could cover or damage sample caches that those future missions are intended to retrieve for return to Earth. The paper recommended that those items be jettisoned during landing so that they fall kilometers away to avoid interfering with the mission. (4/17)

NASA Loses Cybersecurity Chief (Source: FNR)
The NASA official responsible for cybersecurity is leaving the agency. Jeannette Hanna-Ruiz, NASA's chief information security officer, will leave NASA at the end of the month, just eight months into the job. Mike Witt, who came to NASA in February as deputy chief information security officer, will take on her job on an acting basis. (4/17)

ULA Atlas Lifts Cygnus for Orbital ATK (Source: CBS)
ULA successfully launched a Cygnus cargo spacecraft on an Atlas 5 this morning. The launch of the Cygnus, on a mission designated OA-7, flew from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The Cygnus is carrying more than 3,400 kilograms of cargo for the station, and will arrive at the station Saturday. (4/18)

NASA Decision Could Shift More Virginia Antares Launches to Florida Atlas Launches (Source: Space News)
Orbital ATK could launch future Cygnus missions on Atlas 5 vehicles depending on NASA's needs. The company's follow-on cargo contract with NASA gives the agency the option of choosing to launch Cygnus spacecraft on either the Atlas 5 or its own Antares rocket. Orbital ATK expects to hear from NASA "soon" about the mix of vehicles it wants to use on that contract.

Orbital ATK originally planned to launch all its Cygnus missions on its current contract on the Antares, but an October 2014 failure led it to use the Atlas 5 for two missions. It selected the Atlas 5 for this mission, despite having returned the Antares to flight last fall, in order to meet NASA needs for additional cargo. (4/18)

Japan Plans Several More Launches This Year (Source: Nikkei)
Japan plans a record number of launches in its new fiscal year. The Japanese space agency JAXA has eight launches scheduled for the 2017 fiscal year that started April 1, which would break the record of six set in fiscal year 2016. The first of those launches, an H-2A carrying a Michibiki navigation satellite, is scheduled for June 1. Other launches include satellites for climate change studies and reconnaissance and a cargo spacecraft to the ISS. (4/17)

India Plans Joint Venture Approach to PSLV Rocket Production (Source: PTI)
India's space agency is planning to develop a joint venture with industry to produce launch vehicles. The joint venture, which would involve up to half a dozen companies and many more subcontractors, would build the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles that have become the workhorse for the Indian space program. The first PSLV launch by that joint venture is planned for 2020 or 2021. (4/17)

Australia’s Back in the Satellite Business with a New Launch (Source: The Conversation)
The first Australian-built satellites to be launched in 15 years took off this week from Cape Canaveral in Florida. Unlike the enormous satellites Australia uses for telecommunications, each of these new satellites is the size of a loaf of bread. But although small, they may provide a key step in enabling Australia’s entry into the global satellite market.

Three types of cubesats are the Australian contribution to the international QB50 mission, in which 36 satellites from different institutions around the world will carry instruments provided by the Von Karman Institute (VKI) to examine the lower thermosphere. This is a very interesting part of the atmosphere for several reasons, such as the way it disturbs GPS measurements. (4/17)

How President Trump Could Jumpstart Space Settlements (Source: Federalist)
If President Trump wants to truly lead the United States and world into the exploration and settlement of the solar system, he needs to do something different and game-changing. He also needs to shift the federal government’s focus away from building spaceships and rockets and towards its much more basic legal responsibilities, especially when its citizens wish to establish their mark in new territories. Click here. (4/18)

US Mint to Launch Design Contest for Moon Landing 50th Anniversary Coins (Source: CollectSpace)
The United States Mint is launching an art competition for the design of its 2019 coins marking the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. As signed by President Barack Obama on Dec. 16, 2016, Public Law 114-282 authorizes the Secretary of the United States Treasury to strike and issue curved gold, silver and clad metal coins in recognition of the 1969 Apollo 11 lunar landing. (4/14)

NASA JPL Uses Space Tech to Battle Breast Cancer (Source: Stat)
For decades, scientists here at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have sent spacecraft deep into the solar system. Now, they’re exploring another mysterious terrain: the human breast. “It’s very simple. If JPL has a bunch of technology — to get to the moon, to look for life on Europa — and that has any benefit for medicine and health, then we have a responsibility to share that benefit with the public,” said Leon Alkalai.

Dr. Susan Love, a well-known surgeon and advocate for breast cancer research, was trying to understand the microbiome of breast ducts — the channels under the skin that carry milk to the nipple. (The breast was one of the organs left out of the federally funded Human Microbiome Project.) Since almost all breast cancers originate in the ducts, Love has been keen to map them and to determine if they harbor any infectious agents that may play a role in breast cancer.

In a fortuitous coincidence, one of the scientists immersed in planetary protection at JPL, Parag Vaishampayan, had spent his postdoctoral training in Berkeley studying how a mother shares her microbiome with her infant, possibly through breastfeeding. While many biologists have long assumed the breast and ducts to be sterile, Vaishampayan knew otherwise. (4/18)

More Microbiome Science with Former NASA Researcher (Source: New York Times)
This short film is, in many ways, a happy accident. It started with a chance meeting, as a former NASA scientist running a lab out of his apartment started talking to us about an experiment: Would it be possible, he wondered, to completely eradicate the ecosystem of bacteria living in and on his body and replace it with someone else’s? Click here. (4/18)

Canadian Spaceport Project Hinges on Moose Count (Source: The Chronicle Herald)
Before you launch a rocket, you need to count the moose. Maritime Launch Services, the company that hopes to build a spaceport on a parcel of Nova Scotia land that juts into the ocean, must first complete an environmental review — including counting seasonal numbers of local flora and fauna — before the province agrees to the project.

“We’ve hired a contractor to help us do the study,” MLS president Steve Matier said Monday. “We could conceivably complete that effort at the end of this year... It’s part of the process, and it’s understood. We had a fair sense of what we were getting into.” (4/18)

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