May 21, 2017

Astronauts May Wear Eight-Legged 'Spider' Spacesuits to Crawl Across the Moons of Mars (Source: Business Insider)
When the first astronauts reach Mars in the 2030s, they'll never set foot on the planet's surface. Instead, NASA wants its plucky human crew to orbit the desert world for about a year, then return home. But that doesn't mean astronauts couldn't explore Phobos or Deimos — two tiny and intriguing moons of Mars.

Lockheed Martin, a company that's building NASA's Orion spaceship, recently put forth a tantalizing pitch for a sortie mission: Put astronauts inside an eight-legged, rocket-powered spacesuit that can crawl, walk, or hop across a Martian moon's surface. Cichan says the Spider Flyer concept came from the need to keep Lockheed's Mars mission proposal lean. By building a small spacesuit instead of a larger lander, the thinking goes, NASA could save thousands of pounds' worth of weight and millions of dollars — and come home with unprecedented samples of an alien world. (5/21)

North Korea Tests Mid-Range Ballistic Missile (Source: Daily Beast)
North Korea has fired a mid-range ballistic missile in its latest test launch, South Korean and U.S. authorities said Sunday. The missile was fired from Pukchang in the country’s South Phyongan Province and landed in the Sea of Japan, according to the U.S. Pacific Command. It flew about 310 miles, showing a shorter range than the missiles used in Pyongyang’s most recent test launches. “South Korea and the United States are closely analyzing the launch for further information.  (5/21)

That North Korean Missile Really Worked, Say U.S. Officials (Source: NBC)
Two U.S. defense officials confirm that North Korea's launch of a KN-17 missile last Sunday was successful and that the missile's re-entry vehicle did successfully re-enter the atmosphere. The re-entry was controlled and the vehicle did not burn up. It landed in the sea near Russia. The KN-17 is a liquid fuel single-stage missile. North Korea called it a "medium long-range" ballistic rocket that can carry a heavy nuclear warhead. U.S. officials characterized it as an advancement for the North Korean missile program. North Korea also launched one in mid-April, but it exploded seconds later. (5/19)

An Australian Space Agency is No Laughing Matter (Source: NewDaily)
The “giggle factor” may have once again derailed a concerted attempt to establish a national space agency in Australia, but experts argue the proposition is far from laughable. The federal government, which already spends more than $1 billion a year on space-related activities, neglected to allocate any funds for the development of a homegrown space agency in the recent budget, despite an urgent call for action from the Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA).

Australia is one of only two developed countries without a domestic space agency, although it has world-class experts and facilities, including the Woomera test range. Australia spends more than a billion dollars each year on space services, such as satellite data, provided by other countries, particularly the US and Japan. “By providing our own satellite systems that allow for international cooperation, we gain a seat at the table and it gives us something to bargain with,” SIAA chairman Michael Davis said. (5/19)

Scientists Look to Skies to Improve Tsunami Detection (Source: NASA)
A team of scientists from Sapienza University in Rome, Italy, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has developed a new approach to assist in the ongoing development of timely tsunami detection systems, based upon measurements of how tsunamis disturb a part of Earth’s atmosphere.

The new approach, called Variometric Approach for Real-time Ionosphere Observation, or VARION, uses observations from GPS and other global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) to detect, in real time, disturbances in Earth’s ionosphere associated with a tsunami. The ionosphere is the layer of Earth’s atmosphere located from about 50 to 621 miles (80 to 1,000 kilometers) above Earth’s surface. It is ionized by solar and cosmic radiation and is best known for the aurora borealis (northern lights) and aurora australis (southern lights). (5/17)

A Ride to Space [From Oklahoma] May be Closer (and Less Regulated) Than You Think (Source: NewsOK)
Who has not dreamed of becoming an astronaut and flying into space? This experience of a lifetime may take off closer to home than you believe. Oklahoma is one of seven states to have a spaceport licensed by the FAA. Located in Burns Flat, at the site of the old Clinton-Sherman Airforce base, sits the Oklahoma Air and Spaceport. The facility boasts a 2,700-acre, public-use airport with one of the longest and the widest runways in North America, and the only FAA approved Space Flight Corridor in National Airspace System that is not within military airspace.

The spaceport is operated by the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority and is licensed, among other things, to oversee the takeoff and landing of suborbital reusable launch vehicles. There are several companies that will utilize spaceports similar to the Oklahoma Air and Spaceport to take the next step in space travel. (5/21)

Barnstorming in Space (Source: NewsOK)
Unlike the commercial aviation industry, the FAA does not create rules and regulations for the safety of spaceflight participants onboard the spacecraft and the government does not certify the delivery method or the launch vehicle as safe. Instead, the FAA requires a spaceflight operator to obtain informed consent from the spaceflight participant. This means that the operator must disclose in writing that there are known and unknown risks for this activity and provide extensive information on the safety record of the operator's space vehicles.

Additionally, the spaceflight operator is required to train the spaceflight participants to respond to emergency situations and be familiar with the safety features aboard the spacecraft. Under the Commercial Space Launch Competiveness Act of 2015, the FAA is required to refrain from creating rules and regulations relating to the onboard safety of spaceflight participants until October 1, 2023. The reason for this delay in rule making is to encourage these private companies to continue to make commercial spaceflight a reality without the burden of government regulations.

In the beginning, the pioneers of the aviation industry had its barnstorming days free from regulations. So it seems right that these companies who are the pioneers of commercial space tourism should have the same freedom. We live in a remarkable time where people are able to participate in the beginning of mankind's first sustained steps into space. (5/21)

Bulgaria in Space: One Disaster Mission, One Success and One Satellite (Source: Sofia Globe)
Now that Bulgaria is about to shoot a satellite into space, it is time to remember that it actually won’t. BulgariaSat-1, which is scheduled to blast off on aboard a Falcon 9 rocket in mid-June is not a state-owned, but a private satellite. Its owner is BulgariaSat, a division of Bulsatcom, the country’s largest cable-TV provider.

Even while BulgariaSat-1 is still on Earth, BulgariaSat just announced they might send a second satellite into space within five years, “if the launch goes well”. The company says the Romanians, the Greek, the Israelis, the Germans and others were interested. They presumably mean cable-TV and communication companies in those countries, who want their TV programs spread from space too.

Privately owned or not: This is not the first time the words Bulgaria and space met in one and the same sentence. This kind of talk started more than half a century ago in Moscow. On a warm evening in August of 1964, the commander-in-chief of the Bulgarian Air Force, Lt. Gen. Zahari Zahariev, was invited to a reception at the residence of Soviet Defence Minister Marshal Rodion Malinovskiy. (5/21)

New Zealand Space Launch Has Nation Reaching for the Stars (Source: ABC)
New Zealand has never had a space program but could soon be launching commercial rockets more often than the United States. That's if the plans of California-based company Rocket Lab work out. Founded by New Zealander Peter Beck, the company was last week given official approval to conduct three test launches from a remote peninsula in the South Pacific nation. Rocket Lab is planning the first launch of its Electron rocket sometime from Monday, depending on conditions. (5/20)

GSLV: Too Late for Changing Times (Source: The Hindu)
‘It may be ISRO’s short-lived rocket, not its primary satellite vehicle as planned’ The GSLV space vehicle’s quiet but laudable success earlier this month could be a small solace that has come too late for the Indian Space Research Organization. The late bloomer may even be a short-lived intermediate rocket instead of being ISRO’s primary satellite vehicle as it was planned, as a few ISRO old-timers and industry watchers privately suggest.

The GSLV was conceived in the early 1990s to launch Indian communication satellites of 2,000-kg class to an initial and later adjusted distance from Earth, called the ‘GTO’ (geosynchronous transfer orbit). This rocket took about 25 years and 11 flights to be fully realised. GSLV F-09 of May 5 was the fourth to click in a row.

The GSLV is caught in a glaring mismatch: it cannot lift India’s bigger satellites; and the size that it can lift is out of fashion and does not make economic sense. As to why the GSLV could not rise sooner to the occasion, the external geopolitical reasons beyond the agency are well known now. ISRO’s smaller PSLV rocket has made a niche in the world market for light lifts. For the GSLV, there may not be many commercial customers requiring its service. (5/20)

Bezos Lays Out His Vision for Building a City on the Moon, Complete with Robots (Source: GeekWire)
SpaceX billionaire Elon Musk may have his heart set on building a city on Mars, but Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ space vision looks closer to home. He’s gazing at the moon. “I think we should build a permanent human settlement on one of the poles of the moon,” Bezos said today during a Q&A with kids at Seattle’s Museum of Flight. “It’s time to go back to the moon, but this time to stay.” Click here. (5/20)

No comments: