June 7, 2017

India's GSLV Could Take Business From Arianespace (Source: Space News)
The success of India's new launch vehicle could ultimately mean less business for Arianespace. The GSLV Mark 3 is capable of placing satellites weighing up to 4,000 kilograms into geostationary transfer orbit, about double the capacity of the earlier versions of the rocket. The Indian space agency ISRO has purchased launches, primarily on the Ariane 5, for satellites weighing more than 2,500 kilograms. Some of those satellites could now launch on the GSLV, although the country will still need to use the Ariane 5 for its heaviest satellites, which remain too large to launch on the GSLV Mark 3. (6/7)

Russia Scaling Back Proton Launch Plans (Source: Tass)
Russia is scaling back its launch plans for the Proton rocket this year. Andrei Kalinovsky, CEO of Proton manufacturer Khrunichev, said Wednesday that he expects five Proton launches to take place this year. Previously, Khrunichev was planning on up to seven launches this year. Three of the five launches will be commercial missions, a number that has not changed even as the overall number of Proton launches planned has declined. The Proton will make its first launch in nearly a year tonight, carrying the EchoStar 21 satellite. (6/7)

Forrester is NASA's New Chief Astronaut (Source: CollectSpace)
As NASA announces a new astronaut class, it also has a new chief astronaut. The agency named Patrick Forrester as the 16th chief astronaut in NASA's history, succeeding Chris Cassidy, who will return to active duty to await a new spaceflight assignment. Forrester, selected to become an astronaut in 1996, flew on three shuttle missions from 2001 and 2009, and had served in other management positions before becoming chief astronaut. NASA will announce its new class of astronauts in a ceremony this afternoon at the Johnson Space Center. (6/7)

Asgardia's Satellite Could Lead to Space-Based Nation (Source: Motherboard)
An effort to develop the first "space-based nation" will start with a cubesat. The Asgardia project will announce plans this month to launch a 2U cubesat containing a 512 gigabyte hard drive preloaded with data, according to applications filed with the FCC. Asgardia announced plans last year to create a nation in space, and some think the satellite could be an effort to establish a private data haven, free from national laws and taxation. Legal experts have treated that effort with considerable skepticism, some noting that the satellite, which will be flown to and deployed from the ISS, will be considered a U.S. satellite under international law. (6/7)

Atom Bombs to the Stars (Source: New Atlas)
Imagine it's July 20, 1969 and no one is paying much attention as Neil Armstrong sets foot on the Moon, because all eyes are on the first manned mission to reach Saturn. That may sound absurd, but while NASA was figuring out how to use rockets to reach the Moon, a super secret US government project was developing a gigantic reusable spaceship powered by atom bomb explosions that was designed to carry a crew of 20 to the outer Solar System by 1970 as a first step to the stars. New Atlas looks at the story behind the original Orion Project. Click here. (6/7)

Roscosmos Says Cooperation With NASA Unaffected by 'Political Outbursts' (Source: Space Daily)
Sergey Krikalev stated that the cooperation between Russia's Roscosmos space corporation and NASA is going normally and successfully. Russia's Roscosmos space corporation and NASA continue successful and fruitful cooperation, political "outbursts" have little effect on space agencies, Executive Director for manned space flight programs at Roscosmos Sergey Krikalev told Sputnik.

"NASA is fully cooperating with Russia, they fly in our ships ... We are cooperating with NASA, it is going normally and successfully, thankfully these political outbursts have little influence on us," Krikalev said. (6/7)

Will Space Exploration Lead us to a Global Space Agency? (Source: Space Daily)
A Chinese call to cooperation has been the main focus of the Heads of Agency Plenary where the idea of a global space agency has been analysed; Roberto Battiston, President of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) praised this dream of a global space agency and the great impact it would have on mankind; he also added that this could be achieved by "the ultimate endeavor in front of us: sending men to Mars".

Jan Woerner, Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA) expressed the wish to invite the global space community to join a cooperative Moon Village concept. Both Global Networking Forum (GNF) and Technical Sessions received a huge interest from the delegates and left us with the reassuring conviction that global partnerships is vital in order to ensure the successful inclusion of all countries in space exploration. (6/7)

Additional Astronaut on the Space Station Means Dozens of New Team Members on the Ground (Source: Space Daily)
NASA's recent announcement of an additional crew member to the International Space Station, which will effectively double the amount of science data acquired from the orbiting laboratory, means a lot of changes. Many of them are on the ground at the Payload Operations Integration Center at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

The POIC, mission control for science on the station, is home to dozens of expert flight controllers who are on console around the clock, 365 days a year, helping crew manage hundreds of critical research experiments. The flight controllers manage the connection between the scientists on the ground and the research in space, ensuring adequate resources are available, including power, cooling, and time on the astronauts' schedules to perform the work aboard the space station. (6/7)

Study Proves Viability of Quantum Satellite Communications (Source: Space Daily)
Researchers in Canada have taken a significant step towards enabling secure quantum communication via moving satellites, as announced by the Canadian Government in April 2017. Their study, published in the new journal Quantum Science and Technology, demonstrates the first quantum key distribution transmissions from a ground transmitter to a quantum payload on a moving aircraft.

To ensure the tests were a valuable proof of concept for the anticipated satellite mission, the team at the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) and Department of Physics and Astronomy of University of Waterloo, Ontario, designed their prototype receiver to consist of components compatible with the size and operating environment restrictions of a micro satellite. (6/7)

We May Live in a Void (Source: Space Daily)
Cosmologically speaking, the Milky Way and its immediate neighborhood are in the boondocks. In a 2013 observational study, University of Wisconsin-Madison astronomer Amy Barger and her then-student Ryan Keenan showed that our galaxy, in the context of the large-scale structure of the universe, resides in an enormous void - a region of space containing far fewer galaxies, stars and planets than expected. (6/7)

SpaceX Wins Launch of U.S. Air Force X-37B Space Plane (Source: US News)
SpaceX will fly its first mission for the U.S. Air Force in August when it launches the military's X-37B miniature spaceplane, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said on Tuesday. Four previous X-37B missions were launched by United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rockets.

SpaceX's first publicly disclosed launch contract for the Air Force was awarded last year for a next-generation Global Positioning System satellite flight in 2018. A second GPS launch contract was awarded in March. The contracts are valued at $83 million and $96.5 million, respectively. In May 2016, the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office disclosed it had hired SpaceX to launch a spy satellite aboard a Falcon 9. The mission, which was arranged through an intermediary, Ball Aerospace, took place last month. (6/6)

Trump Climate-Change Move Shows Contempt For NASA (Source: Aviation Week)
Sometimes SpaceX founder Elon Musk can sound a lot like U.S. President Donald Trump. Musk’s presentation on Mars colonization at the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico last fall was filled with extravagant promises, just as Trump’s campaign speeches were at the time. Like Trump, Musk played to a house packed with fans brought together by social media, drawing cheers by giving them what they wanted to hear. But there was an important difference. (6/6)

Stabilizing NASA (Source: Houston Chronicle)
America's newest class of astronauts gets a special welcome today from a distinguished guest stopping by the Johnson Space Center. Vice President Mike Pence is visiting Houston to greet the newest group of space travelers selected to carry the nation's torch into the final frontier. Unfortunately, if history repeats itself, there's really no telling what or where these new astronauts will end up flying with their newly earned wings.

And while NASA certainly would've welcomed the vice president arriving in Air Force Two with bales of money to bankroll space exploration, what the agency needs more than anything else is a long-term commitment to achieving a clearly defined set of goals for the country's space program. Click here. (6/6)

NASA Needs to Develop New Mars Missions Now to Prevent Stall in Exploration (Source: The Verge)
The next rover that NASA plans to send to Mars in 2020 has a big job to do: gather and prepare samples from the Red Planet that can eventually be returned to Earth. It’s the first step toward a coveted “Mars sample return” — one of the highest priorities in the planetary science community right now. The only problem? There is no second step planned. Currently, the space agency doesn’t have a procedure for getting these samples off Mars and back to our own planet.

A Planetary Society paper, titled “Mars in Retrograde,” paints a fairly bleak picture of the program’s future. After suffering underinvestment over the past decade, the program has seen cutbacks, such as the cancellation of a few planned missions. And essentially, NASA’s exploration of Mars comes to a halt after the Mars 2020 rover, since there are no official follow-up missions in the works. (6/6)

Enthusiasts Warn Planetary Protection May Stop Humans From Going to Mars (Source: Ars Technica)
More than just about anything, Robert Zubrin would like to see humans visit and then settle on Mars during his lifetime. The aerospace engineer has made a living of identifying technologies needed to get astronauts to the Red Planet and trying to build a public consensus that Mars is humanity’s next great leap.

Zubrin also likes to knock down hurdles and roadblocks that he sees standing between humans and Mars. Concerned about radiation? Don’t be, Zubrin says, because the in-flight dose won’t be appreciably greater than some US and Russian astronauts have accumulated during long-duration missions to the International Space Station. And what about the cost? If NASA were to buy services directly from industry and bypass the cost-plus method of contracting, humans could walk on Mars for tens of billions of dollars, he says.

Of late, Zubrin has been bothered by another potential difficulty between humans and the exploration and settlement of Mars—planetary protection. This is the prime-directive-style notion that humans should not contaminate other worlds with Earth-based microbes and, on the flip side, that humans should not introduce any potentially dangerous pathogens to Earth. “Planetary protection is a massive problem for the exploration of Mars,” Zubrin said. “Really, it’s a racket.” (6/6)

New Chinese Astronaut Selection and Space Station Missions Revealed (Source: GB Times)
China has provided an update to its human spaceflight plans, announcing that a third selection round of 10-12 astronauts - including two women - will take place this year, while outlines of crewed missions to the future Chinese Space Station (CSS) are taking shape. While the two previous rounds drew on air force pilots, the third astronaut selection will seek candidates with more diverse backgrounds, reflecting the changing requirements for CSS objectives.

"Scientific experiments are going to be a major part of the new space station, so we're going to need astronauts who have the right backgrounds," said Yang Liwei, deputy director of China's manned space engineering office. China has sent 11 astronauts into space, most recently on the Shenzhou-11 mission last October, the country's longest by far at 33 days.  (6/6)

China’s Telescope on the Moon is Still Working, and Could for 30 More Years (Source: GB Times)
China’s Chang’e-3 lander and its Lunar-based Ultraviolet Telescope (LUT) are still operational, three and a half years after landing on the Moon. The LUT has been monitoring variable stars and stars like our own Sun, and also performing low-galactic-latitude sky surveys during the daytime periods over Mare Imbrium, the area in which Chang’e-3 landed.

Chang’e-3 is still in contact with ground stations in China during these periods of sunlight and transmitting data from LUT, which is the only instrument on the lander that is still operational. The lack of atmosphere makes the Moon a prime place for UV astronomy, which is not possible at low altitudes on Earth, and the LUT has yielded some interesting results. (6/6)

No Investor Makes a Good Return on Launchers. Should the UK Try Anyway? (Source: Space Intel Report)
The national British debate over whether to develop a domestic space-launch service hinges on the unproved hypothesis that it’s possible to make a decent return on the investment. The new government to follow the June 8 election is unlikely to take a radically different view of the subject than its predecessor, which promoted the idea of spaceports for vertical and horizontal-launch systems but stopped short of labeling the effort a strategic priority for government spending.

The government also set the goal of having a service in operation in 2020. Industry officials attending the UK Space Conference here May 30-June 1 were unanimous in saying this schedule is impossible to meet unless Britain opts to import an existing launch system and operate it from UK territory. Any imported service will need to negotiate multiple regulatory issues arising from the UK government and from the government that controls export of the relevant technology. (6/6)

Harris-ExactEarth Partnership Promises Minute-by-Minute Ship Tracking (Source: Space News)
Harris Corp. and Canada’s exactEarth are establishing a space-based constellation of more than 60 maritime-tracking sensors to enable government and commercial customers to pinpoint the location of ships around the world nearly instantaneously. The first four sensors, launched in January as hosted payloads on Iridium Next communications satellites, are tracking 250,000 ships through their Automatic Identification System (AIS) beacons. (6/6)

U.S. Government Should Reduce Impediments to Commercial Space Innovation (Source: Space News)
The U.S. government could bolster commercial space innovation by relaxing regulations and lowering some of the bureaucratic hurdles that discourage private firms from working with federal agencies, according to panelists at the 2017 GEOINT Symposium.

Without changes to the regulatory environment, some space industry startups eager to work with government customers are likely to give up. “Unless you are a large integrator with a staff that knows how government contracts work and can deal with [International Traffic in Arms Regulations], there’s an uphill battle,” said John Hanna. (6/6)

Canada Revises Satellite Licensing, Lifts Moratorium for New Non-GEO Systems (Source: SpaceQ)
Canada's department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) issued an update to satellite licensing rules and a lifted a moratorium on applications for Non-Geostationary Satellite Orbit (NGSO) systems which had been in place since June 2016. The lifting of the moratorium on applications and the revised rules are a result of dramatic changes within the satellite industry the past couple of years.

Specifically, the re-emergence of companies planning on building large, and in some cases, mega Non-Geostationary Satellite Orbit (NGSO) systems with thousands of small satellites. The moratorium on commercial NGSO satellite applications will be lifted at 08:00 ET on June 26, 2017 and applications will be treated in the order in which they are received. As well, the government will hold an information session on June 12, details of which will be released shortly on their website. (6/6)

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