June 20, 2017

Air Force Contractor Looks To Nix Subcontractor's $9M Suit (Source: Law360)
An Air Force contractor asked a Florida federal judge Friday to toss a suit over $9 million in compensation for subcontract work it says was never completed, saying the subcontractor’s claim is based on a deliberate misreading of the agreement for work on a space launch operations support contract. Yang Enterprises Inc. last year hit prime contractor Space Coast Launch Services LLC with a breach of contract lawsuit in Florida federal court, accusing the company of underpaying it $9 million. Space Coast Launch Services this week told the judge that Yang Enterprises never completed the work in question. (6/19)

Big Rocket, Multiple Launches Among China’s Moonshot Choices (Source: Aviation Week)
Building an enormous rocket is one way to get to the Moon, and the Chinese, penciling a manned lunar mission for the 2030s, may well choose that option. But the possibility of launching the equipment in several shots and assembling the pieces in space also seems to be under study. Preliminary work is underway on the super-heavy launcher, on a schedule that now has been loosened. The mighty rocket, if developed, could fly in 2028 as previously targeted, or maybe two years later. (6/16)

Space Flight Bill Could Create ‘Thriving Hub’ in Scotland (Source: The Scotsman)
A space flight bill to be included in the Queen’s Speech could see Scotland become “a thriving hub” for the industry, according to the secretary of state for Scotland. New powers would see the launch of satellites from the UK for the first time, horizontal flights to the edge of space for scientific experiments and the creation of spaceports across the UK.

A number of Scottish sites have expressed an interest in the project, including Prestwick, Machrihanish and Stornoway. Scottish secretary David Mundell said: “This new legislation on space ports will be a giant leap forward for Scotland’s ambitious space and satellite sector. It will give each of our potential spaceports a fantastic opportunity to establish Scotland as a thriving hub for commercial spaceflight. (6/20)

Government Announces Bill to Boost UK Space Sector (Source: Politics Home)
Ministers have announced plans for three bills to boost infrastructure in tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech: one on the next phase of HS2 from the Midlands to the north west, one to encourage more people to use electric cars, and one on spaceflight technology. The Government will lay out its legislative agenda for the next two years tomorrow, with the process of transferring European Union laws onto the UK statute book via the Great Repeal Bill expected to dominate much of the parliamentary business over that period.

“The powers will allow the launch of satellites from the UK for the first time, horizontal flights to the edge of space for scientific experiments and the establishment and operation of spaceports in regions across the UK,” the Government said of the bill. “The legislation will ensure the UK can take advantage of these new markets, overcome dependence on foreign launch services and benefit from the development of new spaceports and supply chains.” The UK's space sector is worth an estimated £13.7bn a year to the economy already. (6/20)

Lessons On Designing An Interstellar Probe (Source: Forbes)
Engineering full-scale interstellar probes will likely require new materials, new tech and a whole new set of design parameters. But most of all it will require speed. Today’s fastest spacecraft --- NASA’s New Horizons, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 --- all still only travel at a fraction of one percent of light. And even at one percent of lightspeed, it would take 400 years to get to the next star over. Therein, lies the rub.

“There's a well-known problem in deep space travel, the Wait equation,” said Jeff Greason of Tau Zero Foundation, a non-profit group currently working on interstellar and advanced propulsion technologies. “The value of investing in something today that won't return science for 400 years is very low.” It makes no sense to launch a probe to another star if the spacecraft is traveling at only one percent of light , says Greason. That’s because by the time the 400-year probe got there, he says, it would have long been passed by faster, later probes. That’s one reason The Tau Zero Foundation is focusing on improving propulsion technologies first.

“It’s far easier to make an interstellar mission take twenty years than it is to figure out how to build, and how to fund a 200-year mission,” said Greason. But there are also other challenges. “The real challenges are in the lack of maintenance and redundancy , in protecting the craft from erosion by interstellar dust and gas at such high speeds,” said Greason. There’s also the need to work out how to make such craft both autonomous and capable of communications back to Earth. (6/20)

SES AMC-9 Now a 'Zombie' Satellite (Source: Advanced Television)
SES-owned satellite AMC-9, which suffered a “major anomaly” on Saturday morning is probably lost, according to sources at SES. While not yet confirmed as being totally lost, the short-term prognosis does not look good. A previous ‘zombie’ satellite was Galaxy-15 which went adrift back in April 2010, and slowly started drifting into the orbital space of adjacent satellites from its designated orbital slot. More information should emerge as the technicians and engineers get a better idea as to what is happening to the satellite in orbit. (6/20)

UAE Teachers Participate in Honeywell Educators at Space Academy Astronaut Training Program (Source: Arabian Aerospace)
Honeywell and long-term partner, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC) are welcoming four UAE-based teachers amongst 200 middle school teachers from 33 countries and 45 U.S. states and territories to the Honeywell Educators at Space Academy (HESA). Over the course of two consecutive weeks, from June 14 to 27, teachers will experience a unique opportunity to re-ignite their passion for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. (6/19)

British Startup Offers Low-Cost Cubesat Services (Source: Space News)
A British startup says that it can build and launch cubesats for a fraction of the cost of traditional approaches, a concept that has won support from the European Space Agency. Open Cosmos, a company based in Harwell, England, offers spacecraft design, launch and related services for cubesats as large as 12 units. The company says its all-inclusive costs start at £500,000 ($637,000) for a 3U cubesat, which it claims is as little as one-tenth the cost of alternative providers. (6/19)

Get Ready for Major Traffic Jams During the 2017 Solar Eclipse (Source: Space.com)
With just about two months to go before the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, one big question is: Just how many people intend to travel into the path of totality, which stretches from Oregon to South Carolina? "Imagine 20 Woodstock festivals occurring simultaneously across the nation," said Michael Zeiler, an eclipse cartographer who estimates conservatively that between 1.85 million and 7.4 million people may commute into the path. But unlike a concert, there are no ticket sales for the eclipse, so no one has a definitive count of how many people will attend. The only thing experts can do is speculate. (6/19)

China's Cargo Spacecraft Completes Second docking with Space Lab (source: Xinhua)
China's Tianzhou-1 cargo spacecraft completed its second docking with Tiangong-2 space lab at 2:55 p.m. Monday, after flying around the space lab. Tianzhou-1 separated from Tiangong-2 on Monday morning and remained at distance of five kilometers behind the space lab for about 90 minutes. Then, it was commanded to fly around Tiangong-2 from behind to a distance of five kilometers in front of the space lab. During the flight, both Tianzhou-1 and Tiangong-2 turned in a semicircle. (6/19)

Ten Ways that Astronauts are Helping You Stay Healthy (Source: The Conversation)
Astronauts on the International Space Station are growing crystals that could help develop new drugs for use on Earth. Here are ten healthcare technologies that have already come from space. Click here. (6/19) https://theconversation.com/ten-ways-that-astronauts-are-helping-you-stay-healthy-78220

This New NASA Astronaut Has a Powerful Message for Girls in STEM (Source: Fortune)
NASA, it turns out, doesn't leave voicemail messages. When Kayla Barron, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, was waiting to hear whether NASA had selected her for its next class of astronaut candidates, she actually missed the selection committee's first call. "It was a horrifying experience," she told Fortune. "It was the most important call of my life."

Once Barron, 29, connected with NASA, she found out that the selection committee, after a rigorous, months-long evaluation process, had selected her as one of its 12 new recruits—from the biggest-ever pool of applicants: 18,300. Barron says she stands apart from her classmates in that she just recently came to see the astronaut program as a concrete goal. From the Navy, she didn't see a straight path to NASA. Click here. (6/19)

Why Is the Speed of Light So Slow? (Source: Space.com)
In 2015, a team of Scottish scientists announced they had found a way to slow the speed of light. By sending photons through a special mask, the researchers altered their shape. In this malformed state, these infinitesimal particles of light traveled slower than normal photons. The difference in speed was almost imperceptible, but the accomplishment itself was stunning! At 299,792,458 meters per second, the speed of light has stood as an unbreakable, unchangeable speed limit. No longer. But why would anybody want to slow down the speed of light? After all, it's already slow enough! Click here. (6/19)

Buckyballs Mysteriously Show Up in Cold Space and Warp Starlight (Source: New Scientist)
Recent discoveries have shown that the chemical reactions between stars can build the constituents of biological molecules like amino acids and sugars. These substances, raining from space, may have contributed to the origin of life on Earth. But these reactions are intricate and hard to track, leaving us searching for beacons – a molecule we understand that could help us navigate through the fog. This is where the small stuff becomes a big deal. Hang on as we zoom down.

To envision a buckyball bouncing around in outer space, picture it like a little football: 60 atoms of carbon arranged in a rough sphere. But, even after astronomers began to look for fullerenes in space, they took two and a half decades to find. It wasn’t until 2010 that a team led by Jan Cami at the University of Western Ontario in Canada found their spectral signatures in the colorful gas around a dying star.

Since then, traces of fullerenes have popped up again and again in many different environments. A 2015 paper argued that their presence in the Milky Way may even explain weird spectral features of interstellar space – certain wavelengths of light from distant stars that are being mysteriously absorbed on the way to us. These features have been unexplained for over a century. (6/19)

International Space Station Tries Out New Kind of Solar Array (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
The crew of the International Space Station deployed the Roll-Out Solar Array, a new type of solar panel array. Other solar arrays on the ISS use a rigid panel design. The ROSA array deploys more like a party favor and is more compact. The new array will be tested for strength and durability with the potential to become the go-to array on future satellite designs. It’s more compact and lightweight than current designs. The experimental array will remain in place for seven days, and then be sent back to Earth in SpaceX’s Dragon cargo vehicle that arrived earlier in June to the ISS. (6/19)

110 Student Rocketry Teams Will Compete in 'Spaceport America Cup' (Source: Space.com)
Companies all over the United States will be hunting for new rocketeers to hire during the inaugural Spaceport America Cup this week, where students will fire their rocket creations as high as 30,000 feet (9,150 meters). The competition features 110 teams that will try to fire an 8.8-lb. (4 kilograms) payload to either 10,000 feet or 30,000 feet (3,050 or 9,150 m), depending on the system they chose. The flight operations cap several days of activities that include ample opportunity to network with future employers. (6/19)

Virginia Spaceport Plan Hones In on Rrockets, Drones and Student Satellites (Source: Daily Press)
Last month, when Gov. Terry McAuliffe made headlines and history by flying aboard an unpiloted Centaur aircraft on the Eastern Shore, it did more than officially kick off the state's new $5 million drone runway. It also ticked a key box in Virginia Space's five-year strategic plan to expand its operations and customer base at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport by adding aerial and submersible drone research and development.

As McAuliffe said at the time: "I want Virginia to own the land and the air and the water." But Aubrey Layne, head of the Virginia Department of Transportation, said the state's 2017-2022 strategic plan for the spaceport pushes a measured approach to getting there. VDOT oversees Virginia Space. That approach includes building on anchor tenant Orbital ATK and its NASA commercial contracts to resupply the International Space Station and avoiding pricey "pie-in-the-sky" dreams.

"We put almost $150 million in pads out there for our customer, Orbital, going to the space station," Layne said. "And yet, the board kept saying, 'Well, we've got to get the next one. Can we get (SpaceX's) Elon Musk? Can we get those guys here?' Well, that would have required additional hundreds of millions of dollars." Now, after years of investment by Virginia taxpayers, he said, the spaceport has finally matured from a startup to a going concern. In that time, Layne said, "two things have evolved: NASA has said, 'We want you to concentrate on this low-Earth orbit space. We don't see, long-term, there being humans (launching) out of there. Human spaceflight.'" (6/19)

Arianespace Vega to Launch Italian Earth-Observation Spacecraft in 2018 (Source: Space News)
European launch provider Arianespace will launch a remote-sensing satellite for the Italian Space Agency (ASI)  in mid-2018 using the Italian-made Vega rocket, Arianespace announced June 19. OHB Italia, manufacturer of the Precursore Iperspettrale della Missione Applicativa, or PRISMA satellite, signed the launch contract on behalf of ASI. Arianespace will launch the satellite into a 615-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit. (6/19)

US Mint Reveals Proposed Designs for 'Tails Side' of Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Coins (Source: CollectSpace)
The United States Mint has taken its first "small steps" toward striking coins to commemorate a half-century since the first moon landing. As called for by Congress in legislation approved late last year, the U.S. Mint will issue curved gold, silver and clad metal coins to recognize the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission in July 2019. The proceeds from the sale of the coins will benefit the Astronauts Memorial Foundation, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation and the National Air and Space Museum. Click here. (6/20)

What It's Like to Become a NASA Astronaut: 10 Surprising Facts (Source: Space.com)
Being an astronaut is a tremendous commitment. Astronaut candidates — who tend to be selected in their 30s and 40s — usually leave prestigious careers for a chance at being an astronaut, starting again at the bottom of the rung. Training means long days at work and lots of travel. There's also no guarantee they'll make it into space.

Yet, more than 18,000 Americans competed in this round of NASA's astronaut selection. The new candidates will be announced Wednesday (June 7), and will report for basic training in August. Here's what it takes to be a NASA astronaut and what happens after the selection. Click here. (6/19)

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