July 11, 2017

Iran’s Space Program: A Political Football Amidst Economic Decrepitude (Source: SpaceWatch Middle East)
In the space of one week Iranian space officials have simultaneously announced plans to start their own satellite navigation programme and that an old satellite built by an Italian company is too expensive to launch and so will be consigned to a space museum.

To anyone who closely observes Iranian space developments it is enough to cause conceptual whiplash – how does a space enterprise that wants to create its own positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) capability in a world awash with free-to-use PNT capabilities, while at the same time admits that it cannot afford to launch a years-old, U.S.$10 million small satellite, function?

Coherence is not a prerequisite for a space policy, but it helps. Further, Iran is not the only space power incapable of matching reality to rhetoric, outsized ambitions to economic realities, but it is certainly among the best at self-inflicted discombobulation. Click here. (7/11)

India-Israel Space Ties to Get a Boost (Source: The Hindu)
India and Israel have had a low-key cooperation in the space sector for about a decade now. The recent visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel is set to further the ties with an agreement that is expected to grow in scope and deepen developments. The agreement that Modi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu inked focusses on developing technologies in the space sector. Collaboration in the areas of electric propulsion for small satellite, atomic clocks and GEO-LEO Optical Link were announced. Both leaders welcomed the ongoing ties between the Israel Space Agency (ISA) and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). (7/11)

SLS Upper Stage Set to Take Up Residence in the fFormer Home of ISS Modules (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
The Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) is now deep into its latest phase of processing, as it prepares to be housed in the Space Station Processing Facility (SSPF) – a facility once packed with modules waiting for their ride on Shuttles to make up the elements of the International Space Station (ISS). The ICPS will be the Upper Stage for the maiden flight of the Space Launch System (SLS). The ICPS will only have a short lifetime with SLS, as the program aims to “swiftly” move to the more powerful Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) that will be the workhorse Upper Stage for SLS throughout the 2020s. (7/11)

Juno Spacecraft Completes Successful Great Red Spot Flyover (Source: Cosmos)
NASA’s Juno spacecraft has just buzzed over the largest storm in the solar system. While Juno has been in orbit around Jupiter for just over a year, today was its chance to get a close look at the Great Red Spot. The Great Red Spot is perhaps the most famous weather system on any of the planets. The storm, larger than Earth, has raged in Jupiter’s atmosphere for at least the past 150 years, and possibly as long as 400 years.

It is an anticyclone built around a core of high atmospheric pressure. Though it has been shrinking in recent years, its longevity suggests it is powered from below by some unknown source of heat. The data collected by Juno will help scientists understand "how this giant storm works and what makes it so special”, says Scott Bolton, principal investigator of the Juno mission. Better knowledge of the spot's extent and structure should help understand what lies at its root, shrouded by clouds of ammonia. (7/11)

Satellite Phone Encryption Hacked (Source: Security Week)
Security researchers have broken an encryption system used by satellite phones. Chinese researchers said they have been able to attack the GEO-Mobile Radio Interface 2 (GMR-2) encryption system, one of two such encryption systems specifically developed for satellite radio systems. While those systems have been hacked in the past, the new approach could allow for real-time decryption of communications that use GMR-2. (7/11)

Racial and Gender Bias a Problem Among Space Scientists (Source: AGU)
A new study has found high levels of racial and gender harassment in astronomy and planetary science. The study, published Monday, found that about 40 percent of women of color reported feeling unsafe in their workplace because of their gender, while 28 percent feel unsafe due to their race. The results, based on surveys of more than 450 people in the field, provide strong evidence "that something is terribly wrong" in the field, said the study's lead author, Kathryn Clancy. (7/11)

Planned Fire Creates Huge Plume Over Spaceport (Source: Florida Today)
A dramatic smoke plume seen at the Kennedy Space Center came from a planned fire. Firefighters decided Monday to burn about 6,100 acres of land north of the KSC Visitor Complex to contain a wildfire triggered by lightning over the weekend. Such "burnout" efforts are intended to accelerate a wildfire's demise. The fire did not affect operations at KSC or the visitor's center. (7/10)

Government Backing Sought for Spaceport in Australia (Source: Brisbane Courier-Mail)
An Australian entrepreneur is seeking government backing for a spaceport in Queensland. The Federal Department of Industry, Innovation and Science said it has been talking with businessman John Moody about establishing a spaceport neat the city of Rockhampton and expects to receive a formal proposal from him in the near future. Moody is also interested in government funding for the spaceport. He has provided few details about what vehicles the site would support, but says he has been working with Interorbital Systems, a U.S. company that has long offered plans for a series of orbital launch vehicles, none of which have yet to fly. (7/11)

Blue Origin Rocket Going to Oshkosh (Source: EAA)
Blue Origin's New Shepard vehicle is going to Oshkosh. The Experimental Aircraft Association, which holds it annual AirVenture show in the Wisconsin city in late July, announced Monday that Blue Origin will bring the propulsion module that flew five suborbital flights to the show, along with a module of the vehicle's crew capsule. That hardware was on display in April at the Space Symposium in Colorado. (7/11)

House Bill Would Raise FAA Space Transportation Budget (Source: Space News)
A House appropriations bill would increase the budget of the FAA's commercial space office. The draft bill, released late Monday and scheduled to be marked up by a subcommittee this evening, offers nearly $21.6 million for the Office of Commercial Space Transportation, an increase of more than $1.7 million over what the office received for 2017. The White House budget proposal had instead sought to cut the office's budget by nearly $2 million. The office is responsible for regulating commercial launches and reentries, and its leadership has said it needs additional funding to keep up with the growing number of commercial launches. (7/11)

Clock Ticking for Solidifying Mars Mission Plans (Source: Space News)
With time running out to start work on a 2022 Mars orbiter, NASA said it will have a "coherent Mars architecture" ready to present at a committee meeting next month. During a meeting Monday of the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group, Michael Meyer, lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters, said he expects NASA to have a plan for future robotic missions, including Mars sample return efforts, ready to present at a National Academies committee meeting in late August.

Many in the Mars science community are concerned about the lack of plans for missions beyond the Mars 2020 rover. They are also worried about the limited funding for those missions in NASA's 2018 budget request that could make it impossible to have an orbiter to handle reconnaissance and communications duties ready for launch in 2022. (7/11)

OneWeb Plans Highly Reliable Deorbiting System for Satellites (Source: Space News)
OneWeb says the deorbiting systems for the satellites in its broadband constellation will be highly reliable. Speaking at a forum Monday about space debris, Tim Maclay, OneWeb's director of mission systems engineering, said the deorbiting systems on its spacecraft will be the "highest-reliability functions on the entire spacecraft," even above that of the communications payload. The spacecraft will be designed to deorbit within as little as one to two years after the end of their lives, much earlier than the 25-year deadline in international orbital debris mitigation guidelines. (7/11)

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