June 8, 2017

Johnson Controls and IAP to Pay $3.3M to Settle Contamination Claim at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: Law360)
Johnson Controls Inc. and another contractor that operated the launch pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida agreed Wednesday to pay $3.3 million to settle claims of environmental contamination brought by the Air Force and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In a consent decree filed simultaneously with the complaint, Johnson Controls, IAP World Services Inc. and IAP Worldwide Services Inc. agreed to pay $3.18 million to the U.S. Air Force and $120,000 to the EPA for claims of contamination. (6/7)

NASA Announces 12 New Astronauts, One From Florida (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
“To these courageous, newly minted heroes on this stage, our administration will be true,” Vice President Pence said after the 12 astronauts had been announced. “NASA will have the resources and support you need to continue to make history: to push the boundaries of humankind and continue America’s leadership to the boundaries and frontiers of space.”

The new astronauts will start a two-year training program in August. NASA received nearly 18,000 applications for the jobs. One candidate, Frank Rubio, 41, hails from Florida. He graduated from Miami Sunset Senior High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. (6/7)

Artists Redesign Apollo Mission Patches 50 Years After Moon Landings (Source: CollectSpace)
Two artists who specialize in designing space mission patches have partnered with NASA's official embroidered emblem supplier to produce a reimagined set of Apollo insignias to mark the 50-year anniversaries of the moon missions. Tim Gagnon of Florida and Jorge Cartes of Spain, who for more than a decade have collaborated on creating almost two dozen of the patches worn by NASA space shuttle and space station crews, are now working with A-B Emblem of North Carolina to offer the new set of 24 emblems. (6/6)

Revived S7 Sea Launch Orders 12 Zenit Rockets (Source: Aviation Week)
Sea Launch Ltd., the new operator of the Sea Launch project, has taken its first step toward restarting operations by ordering 12 Zenit rockets from Ukrainian manufacturer Yuzhnoye. Last year, S7 Group announced plans to pay approximately $150 million for Sea Launch, employing Russian Energia engineers to restore and operate the Sea Launch infrastructure. Sea Launch’s assets include the Odyssey launch platform and an assembly and command ship that serves as Sea Launch’s ocean-going control center. (6/7)

Vector Space Systems Leading the Way in Spaceflight From Tucson (Source: KVOA)
Locally owned Vector Space Systems is working to revolutionize the spaceflight industry. Tucson based Vector Space Systems test launched its Vector-R rocket last month in the Mohave Desert, proving the engine and flight electronics are a success. Jim Cantrell, CEO of Vector Space Systems, said the company is working to change the way micro-satellites will be launched into orbit.

Launching a satellite into orbit is a process that used to take months to assemble and cost millions of dollars. With satellite technology getting smaller and smaller there hasn't been a viable option to get them airborne. Vector Space vehicles are that cost effective way to get them into orbit. “The satellite industry is responding very favorably to this by enduring years and years of launch backlog and not being able to get a launch they're starting to see that we're making progress,” said Cantrell. (6/7)

Bankruptcy Office Sells S3 Assets (Source: 24 Heures)
On Wednesday, the Office of Prosecution and Bankruptcy administered a sale of Swiss Space Systems assets to mop up a small part of the debts left by the start-up. They were estimated at over 7 million francs at the time of its bankruptcy. In the order of the creditors are the owner of the premises, dozens of employees, suppliers and lenders. Then everything from envelopes stamped "S3" to chairs to models of the stillborn satellite launcher, must disappear.

In what had once become an international control center, with dozens of offices connected to Florida, Belgium, Russia and Canada, it is now a crowd of buyers and curious people who replace the engineers. The footsteps sound felted on the floor, covered with a glossy metallic coating and anti-radiation. "Look at those chairs, that's real leather." Good material, "comments a professional, feeling the furniture of the vast reception.

Not far away, a former employee has his eyes wet, his eyes lost towards a model of a rocket. "It was believed, until the end. I came only to see. It's weird. In the room there, we had meetings. Pascal Jaussi found the words to tell us to hold on. That the millions would come. But, after a while, I saw the unpaid bills accumulate. We do not have the right to do that to people." (6/8)

Investigation or Endorsement? Questions Raised About BBC Documentary on Virgin Galactic (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Back in February, Professor Brian Cox traveled to Mojave with his friends Richard and Sam Branson to watch the third glide flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Unity. Cox was filming a BBC-commissioned documentary about commercial space. And the company the corporation commissioned to co-produce it, Sundog Pictures, is owned and run by none other than Cox’s good friend, Sam Branson.

The BBC’s decision to commission Sundog Pictures for the documentary has raised questions in the British press about possible conflict of interest and bias. Cox’s endorsement Virgin Galactic and friendship with the Bransons also raise questions about how rigorous he will be in examining the troubled SpaceShipTwo program, which has claimed four lives over the past decade without once flying anywhere near  space. (6/7)

SpaceX Picks Up the Pace for Rocket Launches (Source: Aviation Week)
It is not just the liquid oxygen (LOX) that is flowing faster at SpaceX these days. Elon Musk’s space team is on track to surpass its annual flight record before the second half of the year even starts. Employment is growing, with more than 6,000 staff, contractors and interns on the payroll. Boosters with flight history are stacking up at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (6/8)

Hubble Sees Light Bending Around Nearby Star (Source: Nature)
The Hubble Space Telescope has spotted light bending because of the gravity of a nearby white dwarf star — the first time astronomers have seen this type of distortion around a star other than the Sun. The finding once again confirms Einstein’s general theory of relativity. (6/7)

Future Space Industry Leaders to Gather at Spaceport America (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
America’s future rocket scientists will be here later this month, learning more about rocket science. And, learning more about Spaceport America in the process. More than 1,000 college students from around the globe will be participating in the first Spaceport America Cup. The event, sponsored by The Experimental Sounding Rocket Association and Spaceport America, will feature five days of conferences and career fairs at the Las Cruces Convention Center, and rocket launches the spaceport. (6/6)

China Prepares First Manned Mission to the Moon (Source: Independent)
China is making “preliminary” preparations to send a man to the moon, state media cited a senior space official as saying, the latest goal in China's ambitious lunar exploration program. China in 2003 became the third country to put a man in space with its own rocket after the former Soviet Union and the United States. It has touted its plans for moon exploration and in late 2013 completed the first lunar “soft landing” since 1976 with the Chang'e-3 craft and its Jade Rabbit rover. (6/7)

China Emphasizes Peaceful Space Exploration (Source: Xinhua)
China wants to improve space infrastructure and develop space sciences under the principle of creating peaceful cooperation in outer space, said an industry leader. Wu Yansheng, president of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), made the remarks at the ongoing Global Space Exploration Conference (GLEX 2017) which began Tuesday in Beijing. He said that China will continue to provide services for other countries, including international commercial launches and sending satellites into orbit.

According to Wu, China plans to set up a space station around 2022, and launchspace Chang'e-5 lunar probe in late 2017 to collect samples from the moon. China plans to send a probe to Mars around 2020 and launch the Chang'e-4 lunar probe for a soft landing on the far side of the moon in 2018, he said. China is also working on a concept for a manned lunar landing. (6/7)

Collateral Damage from Cosmic Rays Increases Cancer Risks for Mars Astronauts (Source: Space Daily)
The cancer risk for a human mission to Mars has effectively doubled following a UNLV study predicting a dramatic increase in the disease for astronauts traveling to the red planet or on long-term missions outside the protection of Earth's magnetic field.

Previous studies have shown the health risks from galactic cosmic ray exposure to astronauts include cancer, central nervous system effects, cataracts, circulatory diseases and acute radiation syndromes. Cosmic rays, such as iron and titanium atoms, heavily damage the cells they traverse because of their very high rates of ionization. (6/6)

NASA Not Planning to Withdraw From ISS Program Before 2024 (Source: Sputnik)
NASA does not plan to withdraw from the International Space Station (ISS) program before 2024 despite speculation made to the contrary, NASA Senior Advisor for Exploration and Space Operations Kathy Laurini said. In May, NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin, otherwise known as the second man on the Moon, called on the agency to "retire the ISS as soon as possible" and focus on the Mars program instead. "No, no, no, we are committed to the Space Station and the partnership," Laurini said when asked if the United States would withdraw from the ISS before 2024. (6/7)

Could NASA and SpaceX Cooperation Turn Into Competition? (Source: CBS)
Vice President Mike Pence introduced the newest class of American astronauts Wednesday at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. They will train for two years before qualifying for space travel, which could include missions aboard commercially-built spacecraft from private companies like SpaceX. NASA is counting on SpaceX to bring cargo, and eventually astronauts to the International Space Station, while SpaceX relies on NASA contracts and its launch pad.

Complete with a Hollywood soundtrack, for years, NASA has promoted plans to send humans into deep space. But its "Space Launch System" won't be ready to bring humans around the moon until at least 2021, reports CBS News' Manuel Bojorquez.

So, it came as a surprise to NASA when SpaceX founder Elon Musk held a conference call in February announcing plans to use a powerful rocket that hasn't yet flown to sling private tourists around the moon next year--an ambitious timeline, according to Mary Lynne Dittmar who represents some of SpaceX's competitors through the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration. (6/8)

High-Pressure Experiments Solve Meteorite Mystery (Source: Hybriders)
With high-pressure experiments at DESY’s X-ray light source PETRA III and other facilities, a research team around Leonid Dubrovinsky from the University of Bayreuth has solved a long-standing riddle in the analysis of meteorites from Moon and Mars. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, can explain why different versions of silica can coexist in meteorites, although they normally require vastly different conditions to form. (7/8)

Astrobotic on Path to Affordable Commercial Access to the Moon (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Pittsburgh-based space robotics company Astrobotic Technology, Inc., is accelerating its work on the Peregrine lander designed to deliver payloads to the Moon. The company has recently hired space veteran Kit Grabbe, who will oversee the development of the Peregrine Lunar Lander system. The car-sized Peregrine lander is 5.9 feet tall and has a diameter of 8.2 feet. The vehicle weighs approximately 605 pounds and can accommodate various types of payload for science, exploration, and even marketing purposes.

While the lander is capable of carrying up to 584 pounds (265 kilograms) to the Moon, its first mission, which will pave the way for future regular flights, will take about 77 pounds to the lunar surface. Astrobotic underlines that the structure of its lander is stout, stiff, and simple, which allows for easy payload integration. The spacecraft will be equipped with an autonomous landing system, enabling a touchdown accuracy of about 328 feet. (6/6)

Hypersonic Vehicle Work Making Progress (Source: Aerospace Daily)
Lockheed Martin, whose Skunk Works unit has been working on a hypersonic vehicle for years, is close to developing the vehicle as a successor to the Mach 3 spy plane. "All I can say is the technology is mature and we, along with DARPA and the services, are working hard to get that capability into the hands of our warfighters as soon as possible," said Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President Rob Weiss. (6/7)

Custom Mars Ride Unveiled at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
More and more, NASA and its family of contractors are focusing their attention on the Red Planet, and an event held at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Monday, June 5, showed off some sporty new wheels that any astronaut would love to use when cruising the flash-frozen plains of Mars. The event, part of the Visitor Complex’s Summer of Mars celebration, unveiled a Mars rover concept vehicle and was hosted, in part, by former shuttle astronauts Scott Kelly and Jon McBride. (6/7)

Aerojet Rocketdyne ‘kill Vehicle’ Performs Successful Test (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
Last week, Aerojet Rocketdyne announced the 10th successful test of its Divert and Attitude Control System (DACS) on its Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) in the first live-fire missile defense test against an ICBM-class target.

The EKV DACS is Aerojet’s contribution to the Missile Defense Agency’s Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program which conducted its most recent test on May 30, 2017. The flight, designated FTG-15, also represented the first test of Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Alternate Propellant Tank (APT).

“The inaugural flight of the APT represents several years of dedicated work by Aerojet Rocketdyne’s engineering team,” said Charlie Meraz, the senior director for Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Missile Defense Program. “The APT design is a true reflection of the company’s ability to leverage the best engineering tools to improve reliability and meet customer needs.” (6/6)

NASA Can't Explain What Made This Strange, Deep Hole on Mars (Source: Science Alert)
You'd think NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has seen everything there is to see on the Martian surface in the 11 years it's orbited our nearest neighbour, but a snapshot taken over the planet's South Pole has revealed something we can't explain. While the planet's entire surface is pocked with various depressions and craters, a vast pit spotted among the "Swiss cheese terrain" of melting frozen carbon dioxide appears to be a bit deeper than your average hole, leaving astronomers to try and figure out what made it. Click here. (6/5)

Proton Launches EchoStar (Source: Tass)
A Proton rocket launched overnight on its first flight in a year. The Proton lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 11:45 p.m. Eastern Wednesday night carrying the EchoStar 21 communications satellite. The satellite will separate from the Breeze M upper stage more than nine hours after liftoff after a series of engine burns to place the satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit. The Proton last launched almost exactly one year ago, having been grounded by technical issues since then. (6/7)

Pence Confirms Space Council Plans (Source: Space News)
Vice President Mike Pence reiterated plans Wednesday to reestablish the National Space Council, but with few new details. Pence, speaking at the Johnson Space Center, said that President Trump would "soon" reestablish the council, dormant since the end of the presidency of George H.W. Bush, and that he, like previous vice presidents, would chair it. Pence, though, didn't give a specific timeline for setting up the council. He offered general support for NASA and space exploration, saying that the council "will reenergize the pioneering spirit of America in space." (6/7)

SpaceX Wins Wrongful Termination/Whistleblower Lawsuit (Source: LA Times)
SpaceX has won a lawsuit brought against it by a disgruntled former employee. A jury ruled in favor of SpaceX after three hours of deliberation at the end of a two-and-a-half-week trial. Jason Blasdell had argued he was wrongfully fired from the company for whistleblowing, claiming he had warned company executives of quality lapses. The company countered that Blasdell had become disruptive and that other employees did not observe the falsification of test records alleged by him. A lawyer for Blasdell called the verdict "unfortunate." (6/7)

China Seeks More Private Participation in National Space Effort (Source: Xinhua)
China plans to offer private companies more opportunities to participate in the nation's space program. Tian Yulong, secretary general of the China National Space Administration, said his agency is working on "creating favorable laws and policies" to support private space endeavors in the country. Tian said the goal is to create "a favorable environment for middle and small-sized enterprises" in space exploration programs in China. (6/7)

Dynetics to Build SLS Stage Adapter (Source: WAFF)
NASA awarded a contract to Dynetics Wednesday to build a component of the Space Launch System. The Alabama company won a $221 million contract to develop and manufacture the Universal Stage Adapter, a component of the SLS that connects the Orion spacecraft with the rocket's upper stage. Dynetics will build a new facility in Decatur, Alabama, to manufacture the adapter. (6/7)

NASA's Mars Rover Concept Makes Absolutely No Sense (Source: Jalopnik)
The Mars Rover Concept Vehicle is huge and flashy and looks more like a movie prop than actual, working space hardware, which tends to be very utilitarian and closer aesthetically to the inside of a water purification plant than something like this, which feels more like Batman’s Tumbler. Click here. Editor's Note: That's because it is a prop, for tourists at the KSC Visitor Complex. (6/7)

Would NASA’s Original Astronauts Make the Cut Today? (Source: History.com)
For those looking to reach the stars, there’s only one possible career that leads there: astronaut. On June 7, 2017, NASA revealed a new class of astronaut candidates, picked from a record-breaking 18,353 applications. In the 56 years of human spaceflight, only 338 other men and women have earned the rank of astronaut at NASA. So, how were these few selected?

The answer isn’t quite black-and-white—the process has changed drastically from the start of the space program to today. In fact, many of today’s astronauts would have been eliminated from consideration had they applied in 1959, when the first search commenced.

“I couldn’t have been an astronaut way back in the early days,” says former NASA astronaut Dr. Michael Massimino, who flew on two shuttle missions in the 2000s. Massimino is an engineering specialist who has twice repaired the Hubble Space Telescope, and became the first person to use Twitter in space on the daring final service mission, in 2009. (6/7)

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