June 6, 2017

Canada Has Fallen Seriously Behind in the Space Race, Experts Say (Source: CanTech Letter)
Space exploration is becoming a big deal again, as national space agencies face competitions from a growing number of private companies to come up with the newest tech and the boldest plans for space travel. And with the Canadian Space Agency set to unveil its long-awaited Space Strategy later this month, it’s time to look at how Canada might figure into the 21st century space race.

The question, of course, is where is Canada in all this? The CSA has had some successes over the past few years with endeavours such as the completion of the James Webb space telescope, the continuing work by the Canadarm2 at the International Space Station and participation in the NASA-led OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample and Return mission. Pushing forward, though, a lot will depend upon what’s found in the new Canadian Space Strategy, which the government plans to unveil sometime later this month.

The Space Strategy is being billed as a research and innovation agenda with a ten-year horizon that aims to “support growth in the sector and leverage the benefits of space for all Canadians.” A consultation period leading up to its release along with the re-establishment of the Space Advisory Board have given some indication of the tone and direction of the plan, said to involve growing Canada’s space sector, encouraging more space tech innovation and further strengthening international cooperation on space missions. But the specifics have yet to be divulged. (6/4)

Astronauts Should Learn How to Print Out 3D Equipment to Save Their Lives (Source: The Telegraph)
Astronauts should be taught how to print out 3D medical equipment as missions get longer, with greater risk of health emergencies, experts say. Intensive care doctors called for extra training for those embarking on space voyages, to cope with the unusual challenges of microgravity and limited storage room. Astronauts should be told how to print out their own medical equipment, on demand, experts will tell a conference today.

And those preparing to go on such missions should be told how to perform livesaving techniques in a situation of microgravity, when it is not possible to use body weight in the same way. Methods include performing handstands to achieve cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), or wrapping the legs around a patient to stop them floating away. Those planning space travel should also consider matching astronauts by blood group, to enable transfusions in space, the Euroanaesthesia conference in Geneva heard. (6/5)

Emergency Medicine in Space: Normal Rules Don't Apply (Source: ESA)
Experts at this year's Euroanaesthesia congress in Geneva (3-5 June) will discuss the unusual and challenging problem of how to perform emergency medical procedures during space missions. "Space exploration missions to the Moon and Mars are planned in the coming years. During these long duration flights, the estimated risk of severe medical and surgical events, as well as the risk of loss of crew life are significant." according to Dr Matthieu Komorowski.

In the event of a crew member suffering from an illness or injury, they may have to be treated and cared for by personnel with little formal medical training at their disposal and without the equipment and consumables that would be available in a comparable situation on Earth. Dr Komorowski notes that: "In the worst-case scenario, non-medical personnel may have to care for an injured or ill crewmember. Far from low earth orbit, real-time telemedicine will not be available and the crew will need to be self-reliant." (6/5)

Everything We Know About NASA's Plan to Fill the Sky with Colorful, Artificial Clouds (Source: Mic)
Later in June, people in the United States' mid-Atlantic region will likely be treated to a unique early-morning sight: colorful artificial clouds, courtesy of NASA. The blue-green and red clouds will be produced by the launch of a Terrier Improved Malemute suborbital rocket carrying 10 canisters, which will be deployed approximately five minutes after the launch.

These canisters will release the colorful vapor trail, which allow NASA's scientists to track how particles move in space and learn more about upper atmospheric winds. Though vapor tracers have been used by scientists in the past, the multi-canister ampoule ejection system onboard this mission will allow scientists to cover a much larger area than previous tests. (6/5)

Astronomers Find Planet Hotter Than Most Stars (Source: NASA)
A newly discovered Jupiter-like world is so hot, it’s being vaporized by its own star. With a dayside temperature of more than 7,800 degrees Fahrenheit (4,600 Kelvin), KELT-9b is a planet that is hotter than most stars. But its blue A-type star, called KELT-9, is even hotter -- in fact, it is probably unraveling the planet through evaporation.

Because the planet is tidally locked to its star -- as the moon is to Earth -- one side of the planet is always facing toward the star, and one side is in perpetual darkness. Molecules such as water, carbon dioxide and methane can’t form on the dayside because it is bombarded by too much ultraviolet radiation. The properties of the nightside are still mysterious -- molecules may be able to form there, but probably only temporarily.

KELT-9b is 2.8 times more massive than Jupiter, but only half as dense. Scientists would expect the planet to have a smaller radius, but the extreme radiation from its host star has caused the planet's atmosphere to puff up like a balloon. (6/5)

DigitalGlobe Offering Radarsat SAR Data (Source: Space News)
Ahead of its merger with MDA, DigitalGlobe is already offering access to Radarsat data. DigitalGlobe said Monday it now includes Radarsat 2 synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery as part of its cloud-based geospatial big data platform called GBDX. That platform already includes optical imagery from DigitalGlobe's own satellites as well as Landsat and Sentinel data. MDA, which operates Radarsat 2, announced plans in February to acquire DigitalGlobe, a deal expected to close later this year. (6/6)

Capella Offering Cubesat SAR Data (Source: Space News)
A startup is working on its first SAR cubesat after closing a funding round and lining up its first customer. Capella Space closed a $12 million Series A round in May after an undisclosed customer paid $10 million up front for access to SAR imagery from the company's first satellite. That spacecraft, scheduled for launch in the next six months, will later be joined by dozens more to provide global SAR imagery at a resolution of one meter, updated hourly. (6/6)

Air Force Considering Path Forward on RD-180 Replacement (Source: Investor's Business Daily)
An Air Force acquisition official said the service is looking how to "progress forward" on engine development after a BE-4 testing incident. Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch said Monday that he was aware of last month's setback by Blue Origin, which said it lost a set of engine powerpack hardware during a test. He said he was working with the Space and Missile Systems Center "to figure out how to progress forward" on efforts to develop a replacement for the RD-180 engine, work that includes funding of another engine, Aerojet Rocketdyne's AR1, as well. (6/6)

Commercial Space Experiment Deal with China Offers Alternative Path for Cooperation (Source: Xinhua)
The flight of a Chinese experiment on the latest Dragon mission could open new doors for U.S.-China space cooperation. The experiments on the Dragon mission include an experiment developed by the Beijing Institute of Technology to test the biological effects of space radiation and flown through an agreement with NanoRacks. The commercial arrangement between NanoRacks and its Chinese customer is not subject to federal bans on bilateral cooperation between NASA and China, and people in both the U.S. and China believe it could help enable more space cooperation between the the two countries. (6/6)

Shatner Proposes TV Series Highlighting NASA's Rising Stars (Source: Space News)
William Shatner wants to create a TV series highlighting NASA's rising stars. Shatner, best known for portraying Capt. James T. Kirk on Star Trek, spoke at the GEOINT 2017 conference Monday and pitched his proposed "The Young Guns of NASA" series. The series seeks to profile "young scientists who are involved in planning new things at NASA, JPL" and find out what they want to do in space. (6/6)

Controversy Over British Astronaut's Second Flight (Source: Financial Times)
Major Peake’s first flight was the result of clever negotiating by former science minister David Willetts in 2012, who offered a last-minute injection of €20m to resolve a row between France and Germany over funding future Ariane rocket development. In return for this relatively small commitment, Lord Willetts secured the promise of a space flight, on condition that Major Peake passed his training.

 But the other big ESA members, including Italy as well as France and Germany, were critical of the decision to give Britain a cut-price astronaut’s mission. Tensions have resurfaced as the funding has run out for flights to the ISS after 2019, when Major Peake could expect to return. At the ESA’s next ministerial meeting planned for 2019, “we will look to the UK and other states to contribute their fair share,” an ESA official said. Lord Willetts, chairman of the British Science Association, said he hoped that the promise of a second flight would be honored. “Tim’s flight really transformed British attitudes to space. He was an exceptionally skilled and competent astronaut,” he said. (6/6)

Celebrate Independence Day by Buying a Rocket Test Facility (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Do you make rocket engines? Do you need a place to test your rocket engines? Are you free on July 4? If you can answer yes to all these questions, then get yourself down to the Burnet County Courthouse in Texas next month. The last vestige of bankrupt Firefly Space Systems — its test facility north of Austin — will be auctioned off beginning at 10 a.m. on July 4.

No, that’s not a typo. Apparently, the county only does real estate foreclosure auctions on the first Tuesday of the month, whether it’s a national holiday or not. The 199.9 acre property includes a test stand and other structures constructed by Firefly while the company was in operation. The company laid off all of its employees last September after suffering financial setbacks.

It later went bankrupt, with most of its assets being purchased at auction in March by EOS Launcher, Inc. EOS Launcher had obtained a $1 million promissory note Firefly had signed with Space Florida. It then foreclosed on the company. According to the  auction notice for the test site, EOS Launcher has since changed its name to Firefly Aerospace, Inc., which is registered in Delaware. (6/5)

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex in Space (Source: Gizmodo)
The only place humans have (probably) never banged in is space, which, to some, makes it the final frontier of sexual conquest. Microgravity sexing is an idea that has inspired countless movie moments, but with bonafide space tourism approaching as early as next year, it’s not inconceivable that couples will try and enact their fantasies for real. Click here. (6/6)

It's the Summer of Mars at KSC (Source: KSCVC)
Summer of Mars Kicks off June 5, 2017 with Astronaut Scott Kelly and the Mars Rover concept vehicle. Exclusive events, Mars-themed shows and special astronaut appearances will be at the visitor complex throughout the summer. Plus, rising 5th graders receive free admission! By visiting this summer, guests will learn about the missions that lead to this next giant leap, and the plan for the upcoming years. Summer of Mars is the insider track to NASA’s Journey to Mars. Click here. (6/5)

Tech Denied, ISRO Built Cryo Engine on its Own (Source: Indian Express)
Behind the success of the launch is nearly three decades of hard work in taming cryogenic technology and an interesting history of this technology was denied to ISRO by the United States in the early 1990s, forcing it develop it on its own. Amongst all rocket fuels, hydrogen is known to provide the maximum thrust. But hydrogen, in its natural gaseous form, is difficult to handle, and, therefore, not used in normal engines in rockets like PSLV. However, hydrogen can be used in liquid form.

ISRO had decided to import a few of these engines. It had discussions with Japan, US and France before finally settling for Russian engines. In 1991, ISRO and the Russian space agency, Glavkosmos, had signed an agreement for supply of two of these engines along with transfer of technology so that the Indian scientists could build these on their own in the future.

However, the United States, which had lost out on the engine contract, objected to the Russian sale, citing provisions of Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) that neither India nor Russia was a member of. MTCR seeks to control the proliferation of missile technology. Russia, still emerging from the collapse of the USSR, succumbed to US pressure and cancelled the deal in 1993. In an alternative arrangement, Russia was allowed to sell seven, instead of original two, cryogenic engines but could not transfer the technology to India. (6/6)

Commercial Spaceflight Industry Faces Uncertain Legal, Regulatory Environment (Source: Legal Newsline)
The idea of buying a ticket to space seems like something that would play out in a summer blockbuster movie. Companies like Virgin Galactic, XCOR Aerospace and Blue Origin have been working for several years to change that. They not only need to develop and test technology that sends ordinary people to space at a relatively affordable price, but they must also navigate an uncertain legal and regulatory environment before space tourism can get off the ground.

Jay Gibson, president and chief executive officer of XCOR, a spacecraft and rocket engineering company based in Midland, Texas, contends that XCOR’s current challenge is funding. While there are laws and regulations in place to encourage investor confidence in the industry, he says “it takes a bold investor to get involved in the rocket business.” Click here. (6/6)

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