May 1, 2017

Retired Vice Admiral Sees No Conflict for Georgia Spaceport and Navy Base (Source: Brunswick News)
The newest appointee to the Spaceport Camden steering committee doesn’t see any issues with rocket launches conflicting with operations at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay. Retired Vice Adm. Al Konetzni, who served a tour of duty at Kings Bay during his 38-year career, said the Navy already deals with ship movements and rocket launches.

“We’ve seen nuclear powered warships moor at Cape Canaveral for decades with no issues whatsoever,” he said. “Clearly, operational agreements will be made, communications protocols will be necessary, and emergency assistance sharing would assist both entities.” Any operational and scheduling issues are “easily deconflicted,” he said.

“A submariner could transition easily to the space industry and many have over the decades,” he said. Submariners bring an added value to companies that hire them, Konetzni said. “I intend to assist the community here in Camden County in any way possible,” he said. Editor's Note: Port Canaveral's Navy submarine site is not directly downrange of the Cape's launch operations. At Kings Bay the subs are docked for long periods downrange, and nuclear weapons are stored there.

Japan's Space Industry to Get Private-Sector Boost (Source: Nikkei)
The Japanese government and four companies, including major trading house Mitsui & Co. and construction company Obayashi, are teaming up to develop the country's space business. Under the partnership, the government will solicit business ideas from the private sector and the companies will provide part of the financing needed to commercialize the ideas. Some 20 million yen ($180,000) is expected to be funded by the companies.

Japan's space business has hitherto relied on government funding. The latest arrangement comes as the government seeks to broaden Japan's space industry and companies explore new business opportunities. The Cabinet Office will set up a new award by this summer for technology and ideas that could potentially expand Japan's space industry. It hopes to commercialize them over the course of a few years. (5/1)

She Trained Dolphins, Researched HIV, and Is Helping NASA Get to Mars (Source: Motherboard)
To hear her life's highlight reel, it seems like Aubrie O'Rourke has done just about everything short of finding the Ark of the Covenant. She's worked with jellyfish in a neuroscience lab, trained dolphins with the US Navy, did field work in the Yucatan, moved to Saudi Arabia and dove in the Red Sea, and came back to California where she's begun researching bacteria aboard the International Space Station. She got her pilot's license in Oahu, simply because it's "very technically challenging with pretty big consequences," she said. Click here. (5/1)

Project PoSSUM Graduates 12 Scientist-Astronaut Candidates at Embry-Riddle (Source: ERAU)
Project PoSSUM, a non-profit research program devoted to the study of Earth’s upper atmosphere, announced that it has graduated twelve new Scientist-Astronaut Candidates as part of PoSSUM Class 1701 at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida.

PoSSUM, an acronym for Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere, uses research aircraft, high-altitude balloons, and commercial suborbital spacecraft to study rare “space clouds” called noctilucent clouds. These elusive clouds can help scientists address critical questions about Earth’s climate, but can only be studied in the upper atmosphere from polar latitudes during a small window of time in the summer. Project PoSSUM also conducts bioastronautics research, spacesuit-related technology development, and educational outreach missions.

The PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut program, designed by former NASA astronaut instructors and hosted by Embry-Riddle gives its candidates the skills to effectively conduct research on commercial space vehicles as part of international research campaigns. The program is an intense training curriculum that covers atmospheric science, remote sensing, celestial mechanics, particle scattering, spaceflight physiology and PoSSUM instrument operations. (5/1)

Researchers with UCF Connections Honored with Asteroid Names (Source: UCF)
he University of Central Florida hosts a chapter of an out-of-this-world club, which recently grew by two. Planetary astronomer Noemi Pinilla-Alonso from the Florida Space Institute and UCF alumna Emily Kramer were honored when asteroids were named after them to recognize their contributions to planetary science research. That increases the UCF membership in the international club to 14. (5/1)

Space Industry in Luxembourg Set To Blast Off, Fueled By Government Partnerships (Source: Forbes)
It wasn't quite like the legendary bar room scene from Star Wars. Still, the juxtaposition of characters was memorable: A crown prince, his princess wife, the Economy Minister of one of the world's richest countries trailed by government officials, a gaggle of reporters, and a group of Luxembourg-based, private company executives representing diverse industries (myself among them), all listening to an equally diverse group of starry-eyed entrepreneurs, financiers, NASA leaders, ex-astronauts, scientists, rocket ship and satellite builders, among others. Click here. (5/1)

Fisher Retires from Astronaut Corps (Source: CollectSpace)
The last member of an historic astronaut class has retired from NASA. Anna Fisher joined NASA as part of the 35-member class of 1978, the first to include women. Fisher flew on STS-51A shuttle mission in 1984, becoming the first mother to fly in space. Fisher took a leave of absence from NASA for several years to raise her family, returning in the mid-1990s to work on the International Space Station and Orion programs as well as serving as a capcom. (4/30)

SpaceX Launches NRO Payload, Sticks Landing at Cape (Source: Space News)
SpaceX launched a National Reconnaissance Office payload Monday morning and successfully landed the first stage. The Falcon 9 lifted off from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A at 7:15 a.m. Eastern on a mission designated NROL-76. Coverage of the launch ended as planned at payload fairing separation, but the rocket's first stage did make a landing at SpaceX's Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The launch was scheduled for Sunday but scrubbed at the last minute because of a faulty sensor on the first stage. (5/1)

NASA Gets $19.65B in Omnibus Spending Bill (Source: Space News)
NASA will receive $19.65 billion in a fiscal year 2017 omnibus appropriations bill released early Monday. The bill provides NASA with $628 million above the original request made for 2017 by the Obama administration last year and $368 million above what the agency received in 2016. NASA's exploration programs, including SLS and Orion, won significant increases over the original request, as did the agency's planetary science program. The bill funds several programs, including a Europa lander and an Earth science mission, not included in the Trump administration's fiscal year 2018 budget blueprint issued in March. Congress is expected to pass the omnibus spending bill this week, before a continuing resolution currently funding the government expires Friday. (5/1)

Intelsat Mum on Debt Exchange, Says Epic Business Affirmed by Mobility Customers (Source: Space News)
Intelsat says mobility users are among the first customers to make use if its new series of high-throughput satellites. Intelsat CEO Stephen Spengler said in a call with investors last week that mobility customers have become "power users" of its Epic series of satellites, with other classes of customers, including enterprise and wireless service providers, taking longer to sign on for capacity on its three active Epic satellites. Spengler declined to comment on the company's decision to extend a debt exchange deadline for bondholders, part of the process for Intelsat's merger with OneWeb, from April 20 to May 10. (5/1)

More Iridium Launches on Tap (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
Iridium plans to launch four more sets of next-generation satellites this year. Iridium CEO Matt Desch said last week the next batch of 10 Iridium Next satellites is scheduled for launch June 29 on a Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Additional launches will follow in August, October and December, with the remaining satellites to be launched by mid-2018. The first 10 Iridium Next satellites, launched in January, are performing well, with eight of them already placed into operation. (5/1)

India Plans Satellite Launch for Regional Communications (Source: The Hindu)
India plans to launch a satellite to provide communications for neighboring countries on Friday. The GSAT-9 satellite is scheduled for launch Friday on a Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark 2 rocket. The 2,230-kilogram satellite has 12 Ku-band transponders that India will offer as a gift to neighboring countries who are members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. One of the members of that organization, Pakistan, has declined the offer. (5/1)

OmniEarth Acquired by EagleView (Source: Space News)
The company that once planned a constellation of Earth imaging satellites has been acquired by a data analytics company. OmniEarth said last week it's been acquired by EagleView, a company based in Washington state that extracts data from imagery, for an undisclosed sum. OmniEarth announced plans in 2014 for a constellation of 18 satellites that would provide "scientific-grade multispectral data" of the Earth on a daily basis, but later focused instead on analysis of images from other satellites. The deal is the third to involve a commercial remote sensing company in less than three months. (5/1)

Vector and Citrix to Bring Virtualization Software Technology to Micro Satellites (Source: Vector)
Vector, a micro satellite space launch company, announced that it will join forces with Citrix to bring advanced datacenter and cloud virtualization technology into space for the first time through the development of a software defined satellite platform with Vector's GalacticSky solution. Citrix and Vector will work together to enhance Citrix XenServer for space use and validate Vector's GalacticOS, a purpose built satellite app operating system that enables entrepreneurs to easily develop space based applications. (5/1)

Experts Say 2018 Will Be the Year Space Tourism Takes Off (Source: CBC)
Space. The final frontier, and quite possibly your family's next March Break vacation. Experts say 2018 will be the year space tourism takes off. But while great leaps are being made at what seems like warp speed, it's a venture that's still fraught with issues that go far beyond its out-of-this-world price tag. Cost of launch, of course, remains a major barrier, and one way to bring it down from seven figures to six, or even five, is to build rockets that don't end up as space junk after one launch.

The FAA takes a "relatively hands-off approach" to passenger safety, says Charles Oman, an aeronautics and astronautics researcher and lecturer at MIT who worries the hype around space tourism overshadows the potential dangers, and there are no protections in place for travelers. "For now, the FAA requires only that participants be briefed on risks by the spaceflight company selling the tickets," Oman said.

"Who can really objectively inform the prospective buyer how safe it is?" Oman says he would ultimately like to see travelers discuss their decision to fly with a "technically qualified, independent ombudsperson who verifies the participant is aware the risk is far greater than the one-in-several-million associated with commercial air travel." (4/30)

US Set to Lift Restrictions on Satellite Tech Exports to Saudi Arabia (Source: SpaceWatch Middle East)
The United States is set to lift restrictions on the export of sensitive strategic technologies – to include high-resolution reconnaissance satellites – to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, according to a report in the French online publication Intelligence Online.

The recent visit with President Donald J. Trump and his national security staff in Washington, DC, by the Saudi Arabian Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, along with other senior Saudi national security officials, has apparently repaired Saudi-US relations after several years of tensions during the previous administration of President Barack Obama. (4/30)

Space: The Final Homework Frontier (Source: Newsweek)
Bacteria are a vexing problem for astronauts. The microorganisms that colonize our bodies grow uncontrollably on surfaces of the International Space Station, so astronauts spend hours cleaning them up each week. How is NASA solving this very tiny big problem? It’s turning to a bunch of high school kids. Well, not just any kids. It is depending on NASA HUNCH high school classrooms, like the one science teachers Gene Gordon and Donna Himmelberg lead at Fairport High School in Fairport, New York.

HUNCH, or High School Students United With NASA to Create Hardware, is a program run through Johnson Space Center designed to connect high school classrooms with NASA engineers. For the past two years, Gordon’s students in upstate New York have been studying ways to kill bacteria in zero gravity, and they think they’re close to a solution. “We don’t give the students any breaks. They have to do it just like NASA engineers or anyone sending hardware up to the space station,” says Florence Gold, HUNCH’s implementation project manager. (4/30)

No comments: