May 17, 2017

Cruz Plans Hearing on Space Treaty Changes (Source: Space News)
The chairman of the Senate space subcommittee said Tuesday he will hold a hearing next week on potential changes to the Outer Space Treaty. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said his committee will invite legal experts and businesspeople to a May 23 hearing to see how the 50-year-old treaty should be updated to better enable commercial space activities. While Cruz said he felt the treaty, developed during the Cold War, might not reflect the current environment, he declined to identify any specific amendments to the treaty he would like to pursue. (5/17)

Airbus Launcher Group Becomes ArianeGroup (Source: Airbus)
Airbus Safran Launchers is renaming itself to ArianeGroup. The joint venture of Airbus and Safran was created in 2015 as part of a reorganization of the European launch vehicle industry that also included plans to develop the next-generation Ariane 6 launch vehicle. The name change, which was announced Wednesday but takes effect July 1, is intended to provide greater brand coherence with its subsidiary Arianespace. (5/17)

Aussies Get Land Back From Failed Spaceport Project (Source: Cairns Post)
Land taken more than three decades ago for a failed Australian spaceport project has been returned to its original owners. The government of Queensland took control of nearly 400,000 acres of land in Cape York in 1986 for a proposed commercial spaceport to launch Russian rockets. The spaceport plan, backed for a time by the Australian government, fizzled out, but it was only this week that the government formally returned the land to aboriginal groups. (5/16)

Metallica Considers Space Gig (Source: Guardian)
Metallica is the latest music act that wants to be the first to perform a great gig in the sky. Lars Ulrich said in a recent interview that the rock band has put out "a few feelers" about playing in space, but offered no details about when, or how, such a performance would take place. Metallica is hardly the first act, though, to express an interest in performing in space in recent years, none of whom have managed to do so yet. (5/16)

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Unveils a Monster Computer That’s Made for Mars (Source: GeekWire)
What does a prototype computer with 160 terabytes of memory have to do with missions to Mars? The way Kirk Bresniker sees it, a giant leap in computing is required for the giant leap to the Red Planet. Bresniker said the latest prototype in a Hewlett Packard Enterprise research project known as The Machine, unveiled today, represents one not-so-small step toward the kind of computer that could be included on a Mars mission.

It’s not just aerospace companies that could benefit: Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman says the computer architecture being developed for The Machine is well-suited for addressing big problems on Earth as well. “The secrets to the next great scientific breakthrough, industry-changing innovation or life-altering technology hide in plain sight behind the mountains of data we create every day,” Whitman said. (5/16)

How Hard Did it Rain on Mars? (Source: EurekAlert)
Heavy rain on Mars reshaped the planet's impact craters and carved out river-like channels in its surface billions of years ago, according to a new study published in Icarus. In the paper, researchers from the Smithsonian Institution and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory show that changes in the atmosphere on Mars made it rain harder and harder, which had a similar effect on the planet's surface as we see on Earth. (5/16)

AI’s Next Target Could be NASA’s Mission Control (Source: Ars Technica)
In the iconic movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, astronaut Dave Bowman must deal with HAL 9000, a sentient artificial intelligence computer that operates his spaceship. The computer is all-knowing and all-controlling, saying at one point, “Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.” It portends a dark future for automated AI and space travel.

No one wants that outcome for real-world spacecraft and computers, but Hewlett-Packard Enterprise is starting to think about how to automate many spacecraft systems and outsource critical decisions to an on-board computer. Presently, with the International Space Station, flight controllers on Earth monitor the spacecraft’s overall health continually, and flight directors relay information to astronauts on board when problems occur. (5/16)

Satellite Servicing a Chance for Industry-First Development (Source: Space News)
The development of satellite servicing is an opportunity for the government to develop close partnerships with industry that let the commercial sector develop experimental technology rather than try to adhere to strict Pentagon guidelines, a top research official said.

One of the best things the Defense Department can do “with a robust commercial space base,” is to figure out “how we can work together on things to meet challenges,” said Bradford Tousley, director of the tactical technology office at DARPA, said at a May 9 Washington Space Business Roundtable lunch. (5/16)

Microbes Might Thrive After Crash-Landing Aboard a Meteorite (Source: New Scientist)
Bacteria riding on an incoming meteorite may be able to survive the violent shockwave created when it crash-lands on a planet. Their cell walls have been seen to rapidly harden and relax after a sudden shock compression, enabling them to bounce back even after an extreme collision. “When you are exposing life to such extreme conditions, it is a surprise when they survive quite well,” says Rachael Hazael at University College London

Microbes can withstand extreme environments on Earth, including the crushing pressure of the deep ocean or deep beneath the ground. This suggests that life forms could thrive on distant worlds in similar high-pressure environments. But few people have studied what happens to microbes under dynamic “shock compression”, which is a very short-lived high-pressure environment. (5/16)

FAMU and Lockheed Martin Enter $5M Space Partnership (Source: Tallahassee Democrat)
A collaboration between aerospace giant Lockheed Martin and Florida A&M will enable faculty and students to assist in the development of space exploration projects. Heading that list is a chance to work with Lockheed Martin on NASA’s Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle program and other company space exploration projects.

Over the next five years, Lockheed Martin will provide $5 million to FAMU through a series of task orders commissioning work related to space exploration, the university said. “FAMU is excited about the opportunity for our talented faculty and students to work with the Lockheed Martin and NASA team on the journey to Mars,” interim FAMU President Larry Robinson said. (11/28)

No comments: