May 10, 2017

SLS Fuel Tank Dome Dropped and Damaged Beyond Repair (Source: NASA Watch)
Sources report that a LOX dome for the SLS under construction was dropped and is damaged beyond repair. The accident also damaged some tooling. There are reportedly enough parts to build a new LOX dome but that is going to affect a lot of schedules. David Beaman is heading up an investigation team. (5/10)

New Commercial Spaceflight Standards Group Launches (Source: ASTM)
ASTM International's committee on commercial spaceflight (F47) held its first official meeting on May 8-9 at the Commercial Spaceflight Federation in Washington, D.C. “The commercial spaceflight industry is growing dramatically and driving innovation every day,” said ASTM International president Katharine Morgan. “ASTM International is pleased to help convene the experts and leaders who are building a strong technical foundation for the future of this exciting field.”

More than 50 industry and government officials have been involved in organizational activities for the new committee. “The formation of this committee allows the industry to demonstrate its commitment to the safety of commercial spaceflight while recognizing the importance of innovation in propelling the industry forward,” said Mack Reiley, the committee’s chairman and an expert in aerospace regulations.

According to organizers, the group will initially focus on creating a standards roadmap for commercial spaceflight which could include occupant safety standards for orbital and suborbital vehicles, launch and reentry vehicles, spaceports, and more. The committee is forming in part as a result of the updated U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015. (5/10)

Why India's Women Astronomers Are Struggling To Reach The Stars (Source: Huffington Post)
Of the 12,662 members of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), only 16.6% are women. The numbers are even more dismal for India: women form a mere 9% of the 282 Indian members of IAU. These statistics came up on Monday at the 99th meeting of the executive committee of IAU with members from 101 nations, The Indian Express reported.

The main reason behind the poor representation of women in astronomy is decades of discrimination in a traditionally male-dominated field. In the early 1940s, roughly 11% IAU members were women. In the last seven decades the numbers have doubled, but there's still a long way to go. (5/9)

Spaceport Business Park Phase Nearing Completion in Midland Texas (Source: KWES)
The Midland International Air and Space Port is getting closer to finishing a phase of their Spaceport Business Park. That park is set up for future aerospace business to set up shop in the Permian Basin. Last year, the city received $3 million for the project from the state and the Midland Development Corporation, which they have already begun to reimburse. Council members say they see this as another addition to expanding the aerospace industry in Midland. (5/9)

Orlando Science Center Receives $1.2M Grant From NASA (Source: WOFL)
The Orlando Science Center received a $1.2 million grant from NASA. Officials it will help develop an outreach program to bring science and mathematics discovery to Central Florida's children with critical illnesses. More specifically, officials will end up creating mobile exhibit carts that can be taken to children. The Science Center and UCF will incorporate NASA data and artifacts from missions to create the exhibits.
"Children with critical illness can struggle with formal education due to the fact that their hospitalization keeps them from engaging in active study and attending classes," said Science Center President and CEO JoAnn Newman. "These engaging mobile exhibits will not only shorten the learning gap during their hospitalization, it will help motivate these children to pursue STEM learning and careers." The carts plan to be up and running at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Nemours Children's Hospital, and Florida Hospital for Children in the fall of 2018. (5/10)

Astronaut Hall of Fame to Induct 2 This Month in Florida (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
The Kennedy Space Center’s next Hall of Fame induction ceremony will have a decidedly international flair. Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic woman in space, and Michael Foale, the first British citizen to perform a spacewalk, will join the list of 95 astronauts featured at the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame this month. The ceremony begins at 1 p.m. on Friday, May 19, at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex near the museum’s high-profile Space Shuttle Atlantis. (5/10)

Hawking: Humanity Has About 100 Years to Escape Earth (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
In November, Stephen Hawking and his bulging computer brain gave humanity what we thought was an intimidating deadline for finding a new planet to call home: 1,000 years. Ten centuries is a blip in the grand arc of the universe, but in human terms it was the apocalyptic equivalent of getting a few weeks' notice before our collective landlord (Mother Earth) kicks us to the curb. Even so, we took a collective breathe and steeled our nerves.

Now Hawking, the renowned theoretical physicist turned apocalypse warning system, is back with a revised deadline. In "Expedition New Earth" — a documentary that debuts this summer as part of the BBC's "Tomorrow's World" science season —‚ Hawking claims that Mother Earth would greatly appreciate it if we could gather our belongings and get out — not in 1,000 years, but in the next century or so. (5/10)

Oldest Evidence of Life on Land Found in 3.48 Billion-Year-Old Australian Rocks (Source: UNSW)
Fossils discovered by UNSW scientists in 3.48 billion year old hot spring deposits in the Pilbara region of Western Australia have pushed back by 580 million years the earliest known existence of microbial life on land. Previously, the world’s oldest evidence for microbial life on land came from 2.7- 2.9 billion-year-old deposits in South Africa containing organic matter-rich ancient soils. (5/10)

California Eyes Launch Income Regulation, NOT a New Tax (Source: Space News)
California is expected to approve a regulation, supported by SpaceX, that spells out how the state will determine the amount of income tax launch companies will be required to pay. It’s not a new tax. Since Californians passed Proposition 13 in 1978, the state legislature cannot impose new taxes or increase tax rates without at least a two-thirds majority in both the California State Senate and State Assembly.

The new regulation, which was drafted after California’s Franchise Tax Board (FTB) held hearings in 2015 and 2016 and heard testimony from SpaceX and United Launch Alliance, spells out how companies will calculate their corporate income taxes once they begin to profit from launching rockets in the Golden State. Without the new rules, launch companies did not know how California would calculate their tax burden because California does not simply direct companies that provide services to turn over a specific percentage of their income.

Instead, the state asks companies to determine the location of the customer who benefits from their services and calculate taxes based on the customer’s location. Space launch creates a new wrinkle because the customer who benefits may be in orbit, rather than in California, another state or foreign country. Launch companies petitioned the state for clear rules to help them anticipate future tax burdens, one element firms use to calculate overall costs and set launch prices. (5/9)

Journey Into Space with Women Astronauts and “Dot of Light” (Source: Pixel)
“I could just look at this beautiful landscape of shiny little dots and this black background and think about all the worlds that could be out there waiting for me to discover them.” So says astronaut Anousheh Ansari in “Dot of Light,” a new film from writer and director Eliza McNitt, produced in collaboration with Google.

“Dot of Light” tells the story of three women and their pioneering journeys to outer space, using archival footage alongside intimate interviews with Kathryn D. Sullivan, Nicole Stott and Anousheh Ansari. The film incorporates footage captured with Pixel, and is part of a collaboration between McNitt and Google that also includes new limited edition Live Case designs inspired by women astronauts and our collective dream of travelling beyond the stars. Click here. (5/9)

SpaceX Tests Core Booster for Heavy Lift Falcon (Source: Space News)
SpaceX said Tuesday that it has performed a successful static-fire test of the core booster of the first Falcon Heavy rocket. The company released a brief video of the test, performed last week at its McGregor, Texas, test site. That center core will be joined to two side boosters, both previously flown Falcon 9 first stages, and an upper stage for a demonstration mission planned for no sooner than late summer. The first flight of the Falcon Heavy has been delayed by several years, in part because the company found designing the center booster core more difficult than originally envisioned. (5/9)

GoGo Not Interested in Owning Satellites (Source: Space News)
In-flight connectivity company Gogo isn't interested in owning its own satellites. The company, which provides internet access for aircraft, currently leases capacity on existing satellites. Last month, it announced it was leasing all the capacity on AMC-4, an SES satellite launched in 1999; that satellite will shift orbital locations to provide coverage over the U.S. West Coast and the Pacific. Gogo officials said that they have no plans to own their own satellites, though, believing it's more cost-effective to lease capacity on other satellites. (5/9)

Aerojet Rocketdyne Misses Profit Forecast (Source: AP)
Shares in Aerojet Rocketdyne fell Tuesday as the company missed profit forecasts. The company reported after the markets closed Monday a net income of $5.9 million on $405.3 million in revenue for the first quarter of 2017, up from net income of $5.1 million on $356.9 million in revenue in the same quarter of 2016. That net profit of 8 cents a share was lower than financial analysts' projections of 11 cents a share for the quarter. Shares in the company, which had risen 23 percent since the beginning of the year, dropped 4 percent in trading Tuesday. (5/10)

Japan Testing New Rocket Engine for New H-3 Rocket (Source: Nikkei)
Japan's space agency has started testing the main engine for its next-generation rocket. JAXA started tests of the LE-9 engine at its Tanegashima Space Center late last month, with those tests scheduled to continue through June. The engine will be used in the first stage of the H-3 rocket, a successor to the existing H-2 series with greater payload capacity and lower costs. The first H-3 launch is scheduled for 2020. (5/10)

NASA Balloon Mission Cut Short By Leak (Source: Stuff)
A NASA balloon carrying an astrophysics experiment has splashed down in the South Pacific after developing a leak. The "super pressure" balloon lifted off from New Zealand last month for what was hoped to be a flight of up to 100 days to collect cosmic ray data. However, the balloon developed a leak within a few days, causing its altitude to drop at night. NASA had hoped the balloon could stay aloft until reaching South America, but a continued decay in altitude led controllers to abort the mission and deliberately bring the balloon down in the ocean to avoid the risk of an uncontrolled descent. Scientists were able to collect 60 gigabytes of data during the flight. (5/10)

DiBello Warns of Florida's 'Achilles Heel' (Source: Florida Today)
A shortage of aerospace talent threatens to become the “Achilles heel” in state efforts to grow the industry, Space Florida CEO Frank DiBello said Tuesday. “I would even go so far as to say that this is the area I am most worried about for our aerospace future,” DiBello told several hundred guests at a National Space Club event. DiBello said Florida does not produce enough aerospace-related degrees and lags a dozen states in attracting federal funding for space-related research, metrics that need to improve.

There is a risk that companies will simply poach each other's employees instead of bringing in new blood. “While we’ve been successful in capturing multiple new aerospace initiatives here in the state, if their primary source of new employees is to hire their work force away from other companies already here, then that is a zero-sum game that Florida will lose,” DiBello said. “If we are not responsive to these concerns, this will become Florida’s aerospace Achilles heel,” he said. (5/10)

Blue Origin Contributing to 'Golden Era' for Florida's Space Industry (Source: Florida Today)
Scott Henderson, orbital launch site director for Blue Origin, discussed the company's hiring plans at a meeting of community leaders at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne. Blue Origin currently has about 45 local employees. That total is expected to grow to more than 300 within about a year, after the completion of the more than 630,000-square foot manufacturing facility at Exploration Park where Blue Origin will build orbital New Glenn rockets.

Henderson said that while much of the aerospace talent for the company will be local hires, Blue Origin will likely have to go outside the area for its manufacturing needs. Henderson said he envisions a new golden era for the space industry in the years ahead with Brevard County becoming for space what Silicon Valley in California is for computers and high-tech. (5/10)

Space Florida Supporting New Initiatives for Workforce Development (Source: Florida Today)
Space Florida plans to support several initiatives aimed at bolstering aerospace education and training, from high school career academies to internship programs. One idea would have colleges and technical schools offer master certification programs in areas of advanced manufacturing such as composites and 3-D printing.

Brevard County is supporting a pilot program with a half-dozen space companies trying out European-style apprenticeships. Essential to all of the initiatives' success: industry input. “Industry must be intimately involved in helping to shape and develop the work force of the future that they seek,” said Frank DiBello. (5/10)

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