June 10, 2017

ZERO-G Taking Reservations for Research Projects (Source: ZERO-G)
Affordable research in weightlessness is now available.  ZERO-G offers unprecedented access to space environments for advanced research at a price that will fit your budget. ZERO-G has established the ZERO-G Weightless Lab which provides the much-needed opportunity for new technological advances in biomedical and pharmaceutical research, fluid and fundamental physics, materials science, aerospace engineering, space exploration hardware and human space habitation. Click here. (6/8)

NanoRacks Deploys CubeSats from Cygnus Spacecraft, Demonstrates Future Reusability Goals (Source: SpaceRef)
Yesterday evening, NanoRacks successfully deployed four Spire LEMUR-2 CubeSats from Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft at a nearly 500-kilometer orbit. This was the second mission where NanoRacks deployed CubeSats at an altitude above the International Space Station orbit, and the third External Cygnus Deployment (E-NRCSD) mission overall.

NanoRacks, working with Orbital ATK and NASA, has continued to grow the External Cygnus Deployment program, which is focused on extending the mission of cargo vehicles after their primary stay at the ISS. Spire has been the flagship customer for this deployment platform, growing their fleet of weather and ship-tracking CubeSats, now with 12 satellites deployed via E-NRCSD, and 20 overall via NanoRacks. (6/9)

Harris Corporation – a Florida Economic Engine Providing High-tech Jobs (Source: The Capitolist)
When an F-35 Lightning II fighter jet streaked across the sky at the 2017 Melbourne Air & Space Show, Harris Corporation technology soared with it. When NOAA’s GOES-16 weather satellite blasted off from Kennedy Space Center and started beaming back the most detailed weather images ever transmitted from space, it did it with instruments built by Harris.

And when Miami air traffic controllers started using the new, safer and more efficient DataComm digital communications technology to connect with pilots, they did it with Harris capabilities. These are just a few of the major technical achievements made possible by Harris, one of Florida’s largest technology companies. And these successes are the reason Harris is hiring more and more Floridians to meet the requirements of some of the most mission-critical programs in the world. Click here. (6/9)

SpaceX vs. NASA: Who Will Send Tourists To Space First? (Source: IBT)
NASA usually relies on SpaceX to bring cargo, and ultimately astronauts to the International Space Station, and SpaceX depends on NASA contracts and its launch pad. In February, Elon Musk announced plans to use a new rocket to send private tourists to the moon in 2018. And SpaceX and NASA are both working on separate plans to travel to Mars.

“Do you see any scenario where NASA and these companies might be stepping on each other’s toes at all?” Charles Miller, president of NexGen Space, was asked. “Well, yes. People have to relearn the dance steps, right?” (6/9)

Multi-Million-Dollar Air Traffic Control Tower Coming to Cecil Airport/Spaceport (Source: Jacksonville Business Journal)
Cecil's new air traffic control tower will more than double the height of its current tower. Cecil Airport is unique with its long runways, no landing fees, low pattern and ground traffic and easy access to downtown Jacksonville. The airfield, decommissioned as a Naval Air Station in 1999, is rapidly growing as a commercial airport used for general aviation and military flight operations, and has been designated by the FAA as a commercial spaceport for horizontal-launch space vehicles. (6/9)

USF Professor Tapped as Only Non-Astronaut for Mars-Related Research Expedition (Source: Tampa Bay Business Journal)
A University of South Florida professor is the only member of a team not affiliated with a space program that will spend 10 days at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean simulating conditions in deep space necessary for exploring Mars. Dr. Dominic D’Agostino was chosen based on his research in the USF Hyperbaric Biomedical Research Laboratory exploring how extreme environments affect the human body, according to USF.

The honor further puts USF on the map as a research institution that has the potential to attract top talent from across the globe — a key metric in the regional economy to attract companies to the area. The school is just one metric away from achieving preeminent status, a measure only two Florida public universities have obtained.

D’Agostino’s patented method induces ketosis, a metabolic state that forces the body to burn fat for fuel instead of glucose, using specially formulated supplements. D’Agostino will be the only member of the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations 22 expedition to be in a constant state of ketosis so the team can establish a baseline to determine what effects deep space might have on the human body and neurological system. (6/9)

These Communities Are Winning the War for Skilled Talent (Source: EMSI)
To determine the communities where talent is congregating, we launched the Talent Attraction Scorecard last summer, a report that ranked large and small U.S. counties on how well they’re attracting and retaining skilled workers. With the help of some of the top researchers in the economic development field, we established five quantitative components to form our analysis.

We are thrilled to unveil the 2017 edition of the scorecard, this time with a slightly refined methodology. We’ve kept the same five core metrics, but we’ve expanded net migration to include two time frames, 2011-2015 and 2014-2015, to give a broader view of people’s county-to-county movement and added the 2012-2016 percentage change in the adult population with at least an associate degree to show counties with an increasing share of college-educated residents.

Notably, Americans are moving at an all-time low rate. In his book, The Complacent Class, economist Tyler Cowen points to increased state-by-state occupational licensing and the growing similarities in regional economies as two of several reasons why interstate migration has fallen 51% below its 1948-1971 average—a stunning statistic. Millennials, too, are not moving as much as young people from previous generations. Click here. (6/7)

China Has Reusable Spacecraft in its Plans (Source: Space Daily)
China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, one of the nation's major space contractors, said on Tuesday it is developing reusable spacecraft capable of taking off and landing at airports. Liu Shiquan, deputy general manager of CASIC, told the 2017 Global Space Exploration Conference, which opened on Tuesday in Beijing, that the cutting-edge spacecraft's key technologies and major parts - such as its engine - have passed ground tests and the program is proceeding smoothly.

Yang Yuguang, a spaceflight expert and member of the International Astronautical Federation's Space Transportation Committee, said reusable spacecraft will have a wide range of applications, such as providing space tours for ordinary people, transporting astronauts, resupplying space stations as well as placing satellites into orbit. (6/8)

Launch of Falcon Heavy Could Take Place as Soon as September (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Elon Musk stated that if everything goes according to plan, the first flight of the Falcon Heavy could take place as soon as this fall. “All Falcon Heavy cores should be at the Cape in two to three months, so launch should happen a month after that”. A rough estimate of this timeline places that flight in September. (6/9)

A Space Delicacy: Floating Balls of Coffee (Source: The Verge)
Being aboard the International Space Station gives astronaut Jack Fischer an excuse to play with his food — making mundane drinks like coffee much more fun. “I love coffee on Earth,” he said on NASA TV in a Q&A session with elementary-school students. “But in space, I get to make balls out of it…and then suck the balls. Very cool.” In this clip, he squeezes a bag, and unappetizing brownish balls of liquid squirt from the straw. Fischer guides the hovering spheres to his face and slurps them up. (6/9)

House Members Criticize Proposed NASA Education and Earth Science Cuts (Source: Space News)
House members criticized a NASA budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 that would cancel several Earth science projects and close the agency’s education office. In back-to-back hearings June 8 by the space subcommittee of the House Science Committee and the commerce, justice and science (CJS) subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, members expressed general support for the agency’s $19.1 billion proposed budget.

However, members of both parties opposed the proposal to defund the Office of Education, which received $100 million in the fiscal year 2017 appropriations bill. The office would receive $37.3 million in 2018 to close out its operations. (6/9)

ULA Didn’t Get to Compete for Air Force X-37B Launch that Went to SpaceX (Source: Space News)
United Launch Alliance did not get the opportunity to compete for the next launch of the Air Force’s X-37B space plane, according to company officials. Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and chief executive, tweeted June 9 in response to a question that his company didn’t have the chance to bid on the launch contract.

The Air Force announced June 6 that SpaceX won the contract for the fifth launch of the service’s secretive experimental spacecraft, and Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in congressional testimony the same day that the launch is scheduled for August. ULA has launched the previous four X-37B missions aboard Atlas 5 rockets. (6/9)

Can We Explain the Curious Case of Tabby’s Star? (Source: Sky & Telescope)
Three new ideas have emerged to explain Tabby's Star, officially known as KIC 8462852, but the jury's still out on what's really causing the weird behavior of our galaxy's most mysterious star. “Most of [the theories] seem pretty contrived to me, if not completely crazy,” says Richard Larson (Yale University). However, in the weeks since the most recent event, a few hypotheses have emerged that stand out as genuine contenders able to explain this cosmic mystery.

1) A large planet orbits KIC 8462852, complete with a set of rings as well as two massive clouds of Trojan asteroids ahead of and behind the planet in its orbit. 2) An uneven ring of dusty debris, with clumps spanning about 600 meters  can briefly block the light from the star; the obscuring cloud extended in just the right way along the direction of the telescope’s travel. 3) Something internal is blocking the flow of heat to the star's surface, causing a switch between methods of heat transport, creating dark starspots that could explain the dimming. (6/9)

3D Printing Tools in Space May Soon Be a Reality for Astronauts (Source: Mashable)
With a trip to Mars alone lasting a little over three years, astronauts must take medical emergencies in their own hands to solve problems when their ship is millions of miles from earth. Experts are suggesting that 3D printing may provide a way for crew members to create the tools they need to save the lives of fellow astronauts.

The first wave of tests has already happened. Niki Werkheiser, the space station 3D printer program manager at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, recently spearheaded a project in which a 3D ratchet was printed on The International Space Station. "In less than a week, the ratchet was designed, approved by safety and other NASA reviewers, and the file was sent to space where the printer made the wrench in four hours.” (6/9)

U.S. Defense Department Summarizes China’s 2016 Space Program (Source: Space Intel)
The unclassified version of the U.S. Defense Department’s annual report to the U.S. Congress on Chinese military power is an overview of publicly verifiable developments interlaced with speculation about what’s going on behind closed doors. As is true of many governments, it is difficult to determine what part of publicly available writing by Chinese specialists from academia or the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has made its way into policy and development programs, and what has not gone beyond the technical-paper stage. Click here. (6/9)

China Quietly Appoints New Space Agency Administrator (Source: GB Times)
China has quietly appointed a new administrator of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), as the country looks to become an increasingly influential player in space. Tang Dengjie is an economic engineer and formerly vice-mayor of Shanghai municipality, with no apparent aerospace background. He will be supported by established CNSA officials Wu Yanhua and Tian Yulong. (6/9)

Litigator of the Week: Shooting the Moon for SpaceX (Source: Litigation Daily)
Orrick’s Lynne Hermle, an employment law trial specialist if there ever was one, has developed something of a sub-specialty recently. For the second time in the past eight months, Hermle this week convinced a Los Angeles jury to side with Elon Musk-led SpaceX in a lawsuit brought by a disgruntled former employee. (6/9)

USAF To Keep AR-1 Work Going Amid BE-4 Setback (Source: Aviation Week)
The U.S. Air Force says it will continue investing in the Aerojet Rocketdyne AR-1 engine as a potential replacement for the Russian-made RD-180 as the Blue Origin BE-4 experiences setbacks during developmental testing. (6/9)

Would You Go to Mars? (Source: Florida Today)
Daniel Batcheldor, professor and head of the Department of Physics and Space Sciences at the Florida Institute of Technology, said going to Mars would mean huge advancements in technology that would have benefits beyond space. But would he go to Mars? Yes, he said, though he added with a chuckle, he’d prefer to go on the second trip rather than the first.

“Permanently?” asked Julio Diaz of Pensacola. “And do I get to decide who comes along (and who’s absolutely NOT allowed to come along)?” “Can I bring along my Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator?” asked Tom Szaroleta of Jacksonville. With the target launch date 16 years in the future, age comes into play for some people. “No, but only because I’ll be too old when they finally go,” said Destination Brevard’s Ryan Seeloff. “But I can’t wait to cheer on those first brave explorers that do go.” (6/9)

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