June 9, 2017

New Report Explores Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor (Source: GCRL)
Economic development leaders have good reason to target aerospace. It’s an economic jewel, a multibillion-dollar, research intense, innovative enterprise that produces technologically advanced aircraft, space and defense systems. It involves civilian and military activities and uses talent ranging from those who design aircraft and those who assemble them to those who fly and maintain them. Workers are highly skilled and the pay is better than average.

“The Gulf Coast aerospace corridor has all the right conditions for future growth,” said Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group. “A pro-business environment, strong political support for the industry, and great working conditions all mean good things for the future.” Click here. (6/8)

We Finally Know More About the SR-71 Blackbird's Hypersonic Successor (Source: Popular Mechanics)
Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works recently divulged some information about the SR-72 program to build a successor to the iconic SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft. The advanced aircraft development division of Lockheed Martin told Aviation Week that hypersonic technologies, including a combined cycle propulsion system that merges a supersonic jet engine with a rocket engine, have advanced to the point that work on the planned SR-72 can begin in earnest. On paper, the SR-72 will be a strike and reconnaissance aircraft capable of topping Mach 6. Click here. (6/7)

Space in Kentucky (Source: Planetary Society)
Actually, Kentucky has a storied sci-tech history. I know the state as a place where settlers built kilns and furnaces, and chemists used an ample resource, corn, to develop a new whiskey called bourbon. Nineteenth Century masons labored over ancient sea beds in the center of the state to pry limestone from the ground, and laid hundreds of miles of stone fences held together solely by gravity.

Today in the Commonwealth, some very driven people are writing their own chapter of space exploration based on vision, entrepreneurial risk, and scientific and engineering know-how. Let me share with you their stories and a secret. Click here. (3/16)

Forty Years Later, SETI’s Famous Wow! Signal May Have an Explanation (Source: Air & Space)
The Wow! signal was a strong, narrow-band radio signal in the frequency range of 1420 MHz discovered in 1977 by radio astronomer Jerry Ehman after reviewing recorded data from Ohio State’s Big Ear Telescope. It has remained the best evidence to date for a signal that might have come from an extraterrestrial civilization. Now that interpretation is being called into question.

In a recent re-analysis of the Wow! signal, Antonio Paris from the Center for Planetary Science at St. Petersburg College in Florida provides further evidence that the signal was most likely caused by a natural source such as a comet.

Paris and co-author Evan Davies suggested in a paper published last year that the comet 266/P Christensen, which was discovered nine years after the Wow! signal, was in the celestial vicinity of the signal at the time it was detected, and might in fact have been the source. They reached that conclusion after extrapolating the comet’s trajectory back to 1977. (6/8)

Space Commerce Bill Set for Full House Vote (Source: Space News)
The House Science Committee approved a bill intended to reform commercial space regulations. The American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act streamlines commercial remote sensing regulations and sets up a certification system for non-traditional payloads. The committee approved three amendments that made minor changes to the bill. The committee's ranking member, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), offered an amendment that would have replaced the bill with an alternative regulatory approach, but withdrew the amendment during the markup session. The committee approved the bill on a voice vote. (6/8)

Harris Wins NGA Contract (Source: Space News)
Harris has won a $500 million contract to improve geospatial intelligence searching. The company won the contract from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) in January, but did not announce the award until this week. The contract, valued at up to $500 million over five years, will help the NGA and other intelligence agencies manage, search, and use geospatial data acquired from satellites and other sources. (6/8)

India Plans More Old-School GSLV Launches (Source: Times of India)
Before the next flight of its most powerful rocket, India has several more launches on its manifest. The Indian space agency ISRO said the second launch of its GSLV Mark 3 rocket is planned for January 2018, after the successful inaugural launch of the vehicle earlier this week. Before then, ISRO plans two launches of earlier versions of the GSLV as well as three launches of its workhorse PSLV rocket, including one scheduled for June 28 carrying a Cartosat-2 satellite. (6/9)

Stratolaunch Hires SpaceX Vet for Propulsion Chief (Source: Stratolaunch)
Stratolaunch has named a veteran of NASA and SpaceX as its new head of propulsion. Jeff Thornburg joined Stratolaunch as vice president of propulsion last month, although the company only announced his hiring Thursday. Thornburg worked as senior director of propulsion engineering at SpaceX, responsible for the company's Raptor engine, and before that was a lead propulsion engineer at NASA on the J-2X engine project. Stratolaunch has started ground tests of its giant carrier aircraft, but does not have a launch vehicle for it other than Orbital ATK's Pegasus rocket. (6/8)

Former NASA Official Concerned About "Fake Information" Doubting Climate Change (Source: Guardian)
NASA's former chief scientist says she is concerned about "fake information" being disseminated about climate change. Ellen Stofan, who left NASA at the end of last year, said Americans "are under siege by fake information that’s being put forward by people who have a profit motive" on climate change. "There's this attitude of 'I read it on the internet therefore it must be true.'" She added she was relieved that proposed cuts in NASA's Earth science program in the 2018 budget proposal are relatively small. (6/8)

NASA Picks Cubesat Projects for First SLS Flight (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected three teams that will fly their cubesats on the first SLS mission as part of a prize competition. The agency awarded $20,000 each to Cislunar Explorers, CU-E3 and Team Miles, three teams in NASA's Cube Quest Challenge. The three teams will build cubesats that will fly on the EM-1 mission, seeking part of a $5 million prize purse for deep space and lunar orbit achievements. (6/8)

So SpaceX is Having Quite a Year (Source: Ars Technica)
SpaceX had difficult years in 2015 and 2016, as two accidents with its Falcon 9 rocket hit the company's bottom line and raised some concerns about its reliability in the global launch market. But now the company seems to have bounced back nicely, and after a little more than five months the company is on pace to have an absolutely stellar 2017. At the outset of this year, Ars Technica highlighted four achievements that could make 2017 an "annus mirabilis" for SpaceX. Our updated scorecard, shown below, demonstrates that SpaceX has made some impressive progress toward accomplishing these goals—and more—during what is shaping up to be a pivotal year for the company. Click here. (6/9)

SpaceX Preps Its Next Used Rocket for Launch (Source: Space.com)
SpaceX is getting ready to launch a used Falcon 9 rocket for the second time ever. The California-based company rolled a preflown Falcon 9 first stage into a hangar at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida on Saturday — the same day that a (completely new) Falcon 9 launched a used SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule toward the International Space Station.

The used booster will help launch the BulgariaSat-1 communications satellite, which is scheduled to lift off June 17 from KSC's historic Launch Complex 39A. This particular Falcon 9 first stage has flown once before. On Jan. 14, the booster helped haul 10 communications satellites to low Earth orbit for the company Iridium. That mission lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. (6/8)

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