May 3, 2017

Humans Are Going to Mars. NASA Has Unveiled Their Mission. (Source: Futurism)
Though the undertaking will no doubt include many challenges, NASA is finally ready to make humanity's dream of sending people to Mars a reality. To that end, the agency has shared its five-part plan for reaching the Red Planet. Click here. (4/30)

India’s Space Agency Saves Over US$ 2 Billion per Year for the Country (Source: Sputnik)
Speaking at the Osmania University, Hyderabad on ‘India in Space’, ISRO chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar said the space agency is issuing cyclone alerts to fishermen and early warnings in the southern state of Kerala. Not only that, ISRO zeroed in on a fishing hamlet and advised fishermen from its development center near Thiruvananthapuram. The locals volunteered to give up their land to ISRO for developing the center although initially there was some resistance, Kumar added.

Shedding light on future plans, the ISRO chairman said the agency will launch five communication satellites by the year-end. "The five communication satellites will be used to improve the number of transponders available for communications and will significantly improve our capabilities,” Kumar said. (4/30)

Virgin Galactic Aims to Fly Space Tourists in 2018, CEO Says (Source:
Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is on track to begin commercial passenger spaceflights before the end of next year, the company's chief executive said. For years, Branson has been optimistically forecasting the start of rides aboard SpaceShipTwo, an air-launched suborbital spaceplane that is designed to carry six passengers and two pilots to an altitude of about 62 miles (100 kilometers). 

During the suborbital hop, passengers will be able to experience a few minutes of microgravity and see the limb of Earth set against the blackness of space. Branson has been more circumspect in his schedule projections since an October 2014 fatal accident during a test flight of Virgin's first vehicle. But in an interview with The Telegraph earlier this month, the billionaire entrepreneur said he'd be "very disappointed" if the program isn't well underway by the end of next year. (4/30)

How This Son of Migrant Farm Workers Became an Astronaut (Source: CNN)
Millions of kids dream of going into space. But Jose Hernandez made that dream a reality -- and he did so against incredible odds. As the son of Mexican migrant farm workers, his education was constantly interrupted as his family followed the changing crops. Often, they would spend December through February in Mexico.

Hernandez and his siblings would home school themselves with assignments from their American teachers during those months. But with all of the constant interruptions, Hernandez didn't become fluent in English until he was 12. But through perseverance, Hernandez managed to earn a Master's degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara and attain his goal of becoming an astronaut. Not only has he traveled into space as the mission specialist to the International Space Station, but he now runs his own foundation, Reaching for the Stars. (4/30)

Starliner’s Propulsion System Engines Complete Qualification Tests (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner space capsule got a further boost toward completion when the engines being built for its reactive propulsion system by Aerojet Rocketdyne passed their qualification tests. Twelve of the monopropellant MR-104J engines, fueled by hydrazine, will be used for reaction control during the re-entry phase of each mission. The system is designed to keep the spacecraft on the correct trajectory and orientation for a safe re-entry and landing.

The qualification tests involved hot-fire testing of the engines to not only prove their functionality and reliability but also to demonstrate their reusability. The MR-104J engines have been built to withstand multiple firings to allow them to be used on more than one mission. (5/2)

Honeywell And Paragon To Create Life Support Technology For Future NASA Space Missions (Source:
Honeywell and Paragon Space Development Corporation have announced a teaming agreement that will change the way astronauts experience life in space. The two companies will design, build, test and apply environmental control and life support systems for future human NASA and commercial programs.

Longer duration, human-exploration missions are planned for the future, but there is no easy way to replenish resources such as oxygen and water in space. NASA's future human-exploration missions will require an integrated and highly efficient system for life support and thermal control. Paragon's focus on evolving water and thermal technologies complements Honeywell's new developments in air revitalization technologies, both of which are essential parts of the spacecraft needed for NASA's deep space goals. (5/3)

Why Space Dust Emits Radio Waves Upon Crashing Into a Spacecraft (Source: Space Daily)
When spacecraft and satellites travel through space they encounter tiny, fast moving particles of space dust and debris. If the particle travels fast enough, its impact appears to create electromagnetic radiation (in the form of radio waves) that can damage or even disable the craft's electronic systems.

A new study published this week in the journal Physics of Plasmas, from AIP Publishing, uses computer simulations to show that the cloud of plasma generated from the particle's impact is responsible for creating the damaging electromagnetic pulse. They show that as the plasma expands into the surrounding vacuum, the ions and electrons travel at different speeds and separate in a way that creates radio frequency emissions. (5/3)

Virgin Galactic VSS Unity Passes Feather Test (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
After successfully completing three glide-and-land tests at Mojave Air and Spaceport, Virgin Galactic conducted its first test of the “feather” mechanism on its second SpaceShipTwo (SS2) suborbital tourism spacecraft. This was the first successful test of SS2’s feathering system since a premature deployment of the system on the first vehicle caused it to break up in flight, killing one pilot and seriously injuring a second on October 31, 2014. (5/2)

4 Things You Must Know About the Future of Space Travel (Source: US News)
Think space travel is just for skilled astronauts and fictional characters from your favorite "Star Wars" films? Think again. You don't have to be a professional scientist to fly into suborbital space, but you will have to pay a steep price. With a variety of pioneering companies competing to launch humans into space, lunar exploration is taking off.

Take SpaceX, the brainchild of Elon Musk, which plans to transport two passengers aboard its SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket to cross over the moon and back in 2018. Or Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin rocket company, which aspires to launch six lucky tourists into space via a capsule, and that's testing its New Shepard rocket ahead of plans for commercial suborbital journeys in 2018. For those more inclined to board a spaceship, Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic aims to send tourists – including world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking – aboard the SpaceShipTwo (a six-passenger aircraft) into space this year.

If you're not interested in gliding into deep or suborbital space – or you lack the funds to support a $250,000 journey aboard the Virgin Galactic – you can enjoy epic space events from Earth this year, including watching the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, stargazing in prized national parks or even checking out the northern lights. Click here. (5/3)

AIA Calls for Actions to Spur US Space Competitiveness (Source: AIA)
The Aerospace Industries Association, supported by research and analysis provided by the consulting firm Bryce Space and Technology, released a report today highlighting the growing importance of the U.S. domestic space industry to our nation’s economic vitality and security. The report: “Engine for Growth: Analysis and Recommendations for U.S. Space Industry Competitiveness,” recommends specific steps that the U.S. government should take to maximize potential for renewing American leadership in global trade and investing in infrastructure for a stronger America. Click here. (5/3)

Here's How US Defense Spending Stacks Up Against the Rest of the World (Source: CNBC)
Fresh from a bruising budget battle, President Donald Trump and GOP leaders Tuesday hailed the deal as a first step in a big boost in military spending, one of the president's major campaign pledges. "We are taking care of our military, and we're not going to go back to what we were doing for the last long period of time," the president said at a Rose Garden event Tuesday honoring the U.S. Air Force Academy football team.

Military spending flattened and then declined around the world following the financial crisis a decade ago. U.S. spending picked up again in 2015, topping $600 billion, according to data collected by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Last year, China boosted its annual defense budget to $215 billion, making it the second largest in the world. Russia raised spending to $70 billion, making it the third largest. (5/2)

Space Coast Company Advancing Magnetics to Change Aerospace (Source: AML)
AML is applying innovative magnet and motor technology to address the transition of the aerospace industry and its ongoing quest for electrically propelled aircraft. This shift from gas burning turbines to electric engines will significantly improve energy efficiency, dramatically reduce air pollution, and minimize noise over today’s gas turbine engines. Click here. (5/2)

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex: Operator's Contract Extended (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
NASA has extended Delaware North’s contract to run the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex through 2028. Delaware North, a hospitality and food-service company, originally was awarded a 10-year concessions contract in 2010. During this tenure, major attractions including the $100 million Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit and Heroes & Legends featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame have opened at the complex.

The company, based in Buffalo, N.Y., has annual revenue of about $3 billion in the sports, parks, resorts, gaming, travel hospitality and specialty- retail industries. Last year, the visitor complex set an annual attendance record, the company says. The Brevard County attraction will be marking its 50th anniversary this summer. (5/3)

NASA Seeks Industry Help with Lunar Landings, Potentially Sample Return (Source: Ars Technica)
NASA is interested in the Moon again. This week the space agency issued a new "request for information" to the aerospace industry for cargo transportation to the lunar surface. This new opportunity appears to represent NASA's increasing willingness to reconsider the Moon as a destination for human spaceflight.

Offered jointly by the agency's science, human spaceflight, and technology directorates, in its new request NASA seeks to partner with the commercial sector to deliver scientific payloads to the Moon. "NASA has identified a variety of exploration, science, and technology demonstration objectives that could be addressed by sending instruments, experiments, or other payloads to the lunar surface," the document states. "To address these objectives as cost-effectively as possible, NASA may procure payloads and related commercial payload delivery services to the Moon."

Specifically, the request seeks opportunities as early as fiscal year 2018, running through the next decade for "agreed-upon" locations on the Moon, and the provision of power, communications, and thermal control both during the flight and on the surface of the Moon. Additionally, in the request, NASA says it may also seek the return of lunar samples to Earth. (5/3)

Orbital Insight Raises $50M for Data Analytics (Source: Space News)
Geospatial analytics firm Orbital Insight has raised $50 million to fuel its expansion. The company combines satellite imagery with other data sources to create new information for a range of industries, from retail to oil and gas. The company plans to use the additional capital to expand its workforce and create new data products. The Series C round, led by venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, brings the total raised by the company to $78.7 million. (5/3)

Australian Satellite Broadband Demand Grows (Source: Space News)
Increased demand has led an Australian company to muster a backup broadband satellite into service. The state-owned National Broadband Network (NBN) said that its second Sky Muster satellite, launched in October 2016 originally as an on-orbit spare for the first satellite, is now in service to keep pace with growing user demand. The two satellites are providing broadband service to more than 70,000 Australian households that aren't served by terrestrial systems. NBN said it's improved the installation process for satellite broadband users, reducing user complaints by 80 percent. (5/3)

DigitalGlobe Reports Fiscal Quarter Loss (Source: DigitalGlobe)
DigitalGlobe reported a small loss in its fiscal first quarter. The company said Tuesday that it suffered a net loss of $2.2 million on revenue of nearly $210 million in the quarter, compared to net income of $8.6 million on $175.4 million in revenue in the same quarter of 2016. The company said costs of its planned merger with MDA, announced in February, played a role in the net loss. DigitalGlobe, citing the ongoing merger activities, did not hold an earnings call with analysts after releasing its financial results. (5/2)

Senate Passes Space Weather Bill Including SOHO Replacement (Source: Space News)
The Senate unanimously passed a space weather bill Tuesday. The Senate approved by unanimous consent the Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act, which cleared the Senate Commerce Committee in January. The bill establishes roles and responsibilities for federal agencies to predict space weather and respond to solar storms that can disrupt communications and the power grid. It also directs NOAA to develop a replacement for the SOHO spacecraft that monitors solar conditions. (5/3)

ULA Fined by OSHA for 2015 Launch Pad Safety Incident (Source: Bloomberg)
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited United Launch Alliance for a safety violation in a 2015 launch pad incident that injured one worker. An administrative law judge upheld OSHA's citation for a "serious violation" of a safety standard after a 2015 accident on a Cape Canaveral launch pad. In that incident, a worker lost two fingers when his hand slipped off a grate and into the path of a capture piston. The judge in the case assessed a $5,000 penalty to ULA. (5/3)

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