June 24, 2017

Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop Gets Called Out by NASA Over Healing Stickers (Source: CNN)
NASA just called out Goop, the movie star's lifestyle brand, over wearable healing stickers that it promoted on its website. In a post on Thursday, Goop said that the stickers, which are sold by a group called Body Vibes, are "made with the same conductive carbon material NASA uses to line space suits so they can monitor an astronaut's vitals during wear."

The wearables, which cost about $60 for a pack of 10, come "pre-programmed to an ideal frequency" and "promote healing" by tackling "imbalances," the website claimed. But NASA told CNNMoney it doesn't use carbon material to line its suits, and its current spacesuit has no carbon fibers in it at all. Goop removed the NASA mention from its post after the outlet's story went up. (6/22)

ESA Seeks to Privatize Spaceplane Program (Source: Space News)
ESA is seeking to privatize its Space Rider uncrewed spaceplane under development. Space Rider is being developed by Thales Alenia Space and Lockheed Martin, with a first test flight scheduled for 2020 on a Vega-C rocket. Five more test flights would follow as Arianespace, who would operate the spaceplane commercially, decides how many reusable vehicles to build for commercial flights. ESA foresees using Space Rider to fly microgravity research and other payloads for an estimated $9,200 per kilogram. (6/23)

India Launches 31 Satellites with PSLV (Source: The Hindu)
India launched a PSLV carrying 31 satellites overnight. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Thursday night. The rocket placed into a sun-synchronous orbit a Cartosat-2 Earth imaging satellite as well as 30 smallsat secondary payloads, including eight satellites for Spire and three for Sky and Space Global. (6/23)

Key Members of Congress Push for Military Space Corps (Source: Space News)
The leadership of the Air Force and key members of the House Armed Services Committee are at odds over establishing a "Space Corps." Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), chairman of the strategic forces subcommittee, pushed back against criticism of his Space Corps proposal by the Secretary of the Air Force and the Air Force Chief of Staff.

At a markup of a defense authorization bill Thursday, Rogers responded to Air Force comments that a Space Corps was not needed. "I have to say I've been shocked by the response by the Air Force leadership," he said, saying he would press ahead with language in the bill that would create a Space Corps within the Air Force. (6/23)

OneWeb First to Get FCC Approval for Broadband Constellation (Source: Washington Post)
OneWeb has won FCC approval for its broadband satellite constellation. The FCC said Thursday it approved plans by OneWeb to provide broadband services in the United States, a key milestone in the company's development of its satellite system. The FCC added it is examining several other applications for satellite constellations to provide similar services in the U.S. (6/23)

ESA Contracts for Eight More Galileo Satellites (Source: BBC)
OHB and Surrey Satellite have won a contract for another eight Galileo navigation satellites. The companies signed the contract Thursday with the European Space Agency, which procures the satellites on behalf of the EU. The companies won the contract despite Brexit-related complications for U.K.-based SSTL, which will require some kind of agreement to allow the company to continue working on classified parts of the Galileo payload after the country exits the EU. (6/23)

BulgariaSat Made Possible by SpaceX Pricing (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
The CEO of BulgariaSat said the launch of his venture's first satellite would not be possible without SpaceX. Maxim Zayakov said the reduced launch costs offered by SpaceX made the satellite project feasible. The SSL-built satellite is scheduled for launch this afternoon on a Falcon 9 from Florida. (6/23)

ESA Developing New Reusable Rocket Engine (Source: Space News)
ESA has started funding a new reusable engine. The agency has provided a first tranche of funding for Prometheus, an engine being developed by ArianeGroup that uses liquid oxygen and methane propellants and promises to cost one-tenth the price of the Vulcain 2 engine used on the Ariane 5. Prometheus is on track to begin test firings in 2020, although ESA does not contemplate using it in future launch vehicles until 2030. (6/23)

U.S. Astronauts May Continue to Launch Aboard Soyuz Into 2020 (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
According to a report from the Russian news agency TASS, not only will U.S. astronauts launch to the International Space Station (ISS) in a Soyuz spacecraft through 2019, but also there is a strong possibility that Boeing will engage their Russian counterpart to continue the service through 2020.

Though Russia may be the only ride to the ISS, NASA has options from which to choose to buy those seats. Should further delays to Commercial Crew threaten to impact operations of the station, NASA may very well have to procure more seats on the Russian spacecraft. However, they might not necessarily have to contract those flights with Russia directly.

In fact, NASA may be gearing up to ask their Boeing partner to call in the Soyuz seats they were awarded as part of a $320 million judgment the American company received in a legal dispute with Energia over Sea Launch. Indeed, Boeing has already sold some of their seats to NASA for flights in 2017 and 2018, and the space agency has inked an option to procure three more seats in 2019. (6/23)

Recycled Falcon-9 Survives Very Challenging Landing (Source: Popular Science)
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lofted a Bulgarian communications satellite into space from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport on Friday. While BulgariaSat-1 was still making its way into its proper orbit, the first stage of the rocket returned for a landing on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You. SpaceX has landed its boosters on drone ships many times before, but this one was a particular challenge.

The rocket, which was refurbished after its first launch in January of this year, had to send BulgariaSat-1 into a particularly high orbit today. That means the booster had to endure extra heat—and thus extra jostling—while crashing back into Earth’s atmosphere. The land wasn't super smooth, but the rocket survived, and that's pretty impressive. (6/23)

Russia Launches Defense Satellite at Plesetsk Spaceport (Source: Tass)
A Soyuz-2.1v carrier rocket with a Russian defense ministry’s satellite has been launched from the Plesetsk space center, the ministry’s press service said on Friday. This was the third launch of the Soyuz-2.1v rocket, which is currently undergoing flight development tests at the Plesetsk space center. The first Soyuz-2.1v launch was successfully conducted in December 2013, and the second - in December 2015. (6/23)

National Security Needs Robust Commercial Space (Source: Niskanen)
Recently, the American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act (ASCFEA) was introduced to reform domestic oversight of certain commercial space activities. As outlined in a previous post, this bill tackles two issues: (1) it reforms oversight of commercial remote sensing; and (2) it introduces certification for missions that currently stand outside of America’s regulatory regime.

The bill is a major step in the right direction, particularly for the commercial outer space industry. One of the questions that has arisen, however, is how the bill would affect America’s national security. Ever since commercial companies first embarked on activities in outer space, there have been concerns about how their actions would interact with America’s national security apparatus in orbit. With an anticipated increase in commercial activity, these interactions have only grown in importance. (6/23)

Space Tourism Could Help Boost Science and Health Research (Source: The Conversation)
The announcement of the draft Spaceflight Bill in the Queen’s Speech will allow the development of spaceports in the UK. This could see members of the paying public launched into space as tourists, or taking sub-orbital flights from London to New York in just 45 minutes.

Such adventures will be made possible through futuristic spaceplanes, as are already in development by companies such as Virgin Galactic, that will enable us mere mortals to experience weightlessness. If this sounds only of interest to those who can afford the six-figure ticket price, it also has major implications for scientific discovery. Space travel-related research has probably already had a more substantial positive impact on your life than you realise, and this announcement could increase this still further.

Space agencies such as ESA and NASA currently provide access to simulated microgravity for scientific research using parabolic flights. These allow human physiology research to be carried out more easily than on the International Space Station, but the time spent in microgravity is very short. Spaceplanes may provide longer sessions, which could enable more comprehensive research to inform the design of experiments into the longer-term physiological changes from spaceflight. (6/23)

Commercial Balloons in the Stratosphere Could Monitor Hurricanes and Scan for Solar Storms (Source: Science)
Scientific ballooning isn't new. NASA has been in the business since 1982, when it assumed control of the National Scientific Ballooning Facility. The $38 million office flies about 10 to 15 balloons per year, lofting scientific payloads for a fraction of the cost of a satellite launch. But they tend to be one-off experiments with wayward paths that drift in the winds.

In contrast, World View and Raven Aerostar, a company in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, that also offers research balloon flights, intend to steer their balloons, keeping them in stable positions that could boost a number of earth science applications. They hope to undercut NASA, whose balloon missions cost several million dollars, with flights for just a few hundred thousand dollars. Just as SpaceX and Blue Origin are privatizing access to low-Earth orbit, so, too, are these balloon companies trying to commercialize the stratosphere.

"You want to put a telescope up? You want to do atmospheric monitoring? You want to study the sun? You want to look down on the oceans or land?" asks planetary scientist Alan Stern, World View's chief scientist. "Across these and a whole series of other research fields there are just immense applications." (6/23)

Chicken Sandwich Flight to Near-Space Delayed Again (Source: Space.com)
World View has not yet announced a new launch window for the KFC flight. Representatives said the launch will likely happen sometime after Monday (June 26). A high-altitude balloon flight that would have carried a chicken sandwich to the edge of space has been delayed again, due to wind conditions on the ground.

Today (June 22), World View Enterprises was scheduled to launch one of its Stratollite high-altitude balloon systems on a four-day test flight carrying a peculiar payload: chicken sandwich from Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). The launch was also delayed from its original launch date, June 21, because of weather conditions. (6/23)

House Lawmakers Endorse Reusable Rockets for Military Purposes (Source: Ars Technica)
The US Congress has begun the "markup" process to consider budget appropriations for fiscal year 2018, and on Thursday, the House subcommittee overseeing Strategic Forces held a hearing for the National Defense Authorization Act. This bill provides funding for the military, including the Air Force, which oversees efforts to launch spy and communications satellites, as well as other national defense payloads.

As part of the process, Arizona Republican Trent Franks offered an amendment that stated the government should move rapidly to evaluate the potential use of reusable space launch vehicles such as those being flown by SpaceX. Co-sponsored by New Jersey Democrat Donald Norcross, the amendment passed on a voice vote. (6/23)

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