July 12, 2017

Australia Joins with European Astronomy Partnership (Source: ESO)
Australia has signed a strategic partnership with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) that could lead to it becoming a member state. The 10-year partnership will give Australian astronomers access to ESO's telescopes in Chile. Australia will provide financial contributions to ESO during the partnership, and will be eligible to become a full-fledged member of the multinational organization at the end of the agreement. (7/12)

Don't Expect a New National Space Policy Soon From the Space Council (Source: Space News)
The new National Space Council won't accelerate the development of a new national space policy, two people who served on the NASA transition team predicted. In a panel session at an AIAA conference Tuesday, Sandra Magnus and Chris Shank said they were "cautiously optimistic" about the council, reestablished in late June by President Trump, but expected it could take two years or more to develop a formal national space policy to replace the one issued by the Obama administration in 2010. They also defended the delays in nominating a NASA administrator, noting the challenges of vetting nominees and other priorities facing the administration. (7/12)

UK Plans Increased Funding for Space (Source: BBC)
The British government announced plans Tuesday to invest more than 100 million pounds ($130 million) into the country's space industry. Most of that investment will go into expanding satellite testing facilities at the Harwell "science campus," with a smaller investment into a rocket motor manufacturing and test site at Wescott. Government officials said the investment was needed to ensure the U.K. maintained its position in the growing satellite industry. (7/12)

US Company's Ground Station Sits Idle Amid Canadian Licensing Delays (Source: Space News)
A ground station Planet built in Canada is stuck in regulatory limbo. The U.S. company, which operates a constellation of remote-sensing satellites, built the facility in northern Canada, anticipating it could meet up to one-third of its communications needs. However, the company has faced mounting delays in getting a license from Global Affairs Canada, which administers the country's remote-sensing law, with few details about the reasons for the delays. Planet has established backup ground station capacity in other countries while it awaits a long-term solution to the issue. (7/12)

Ligado Broadband Still an Interference Threat to GPS Signals (Source: Inside GNSS)
An advisory board warns that a broadband network proposed by Ligado still poses a threat to GPS signals. A letter by the National Space‐based Position Navigation and Timing Advisory Board did not cite Ligado by name, but described a network similar to that proposed by the company that can "cause definitive harmful interference" to GPS receivers. Ligado, previously known as LightSquared, proposed repurposing satellite spectrum for a national wireless system in 2010, but the FCC stopped that effort in 2012 because of GPS interference worries. Ligado argues that testing it has done shows GPS receivers can coexist with its network, but the advisory board criticized that testing. (7/12)

SASC Wants New Chief Information Warfare Officer With Authority Over Space (Source: Space Policy Online)
The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) released the text of the bill and report for its version of the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Unlike its House counterpart, SASC completed all its subcommittee and full committee markups in closed session, so this is the first time details have emerged. Although the bill does not create a Space Corps like the House bill proposes, it has its own plan for dramatic change in how space programs are handled within DOD.

Section 902 would create the position of Chief Information Warfare Officer (CIWO) reporting directly to the Secretary of Defense (SecDef). The CIWO would serve as the Principal Cyber Advisor to the SecDef and the Principal DOD Space Advisor (PDSA). Both positions already exist. The Principal Cyber Advisor (PCA) was created by Congress in the FY2014 NDAA.  The position is filled by a deputy assistant secretary for cyber policy, though it is vacant at the moment. (7/11)

How Colorado is Ttrying to Cash In on the Multibillion-Dollar Space Race (Source: CNBC)
Colorado ranks just behind California in terms of its aerospace economy. In late June, Colorado-based United Launch Alliance beat out SpaceX for an Air Force satellite launch contract worth $191 million. But the state's space industry's fortunes are contingent on the proposed $19.1 billion NASA budget getting passed. Whether that happens remains to be seen.

And while California is the undisputed heavyweight of the aerospace industry, Colorado stands to gain the most from America's resurging curiosity of outer space. "Seven percent of the nation's aerospace industry workers come to Colorado," said Vicky Lea, director of aerospace and aviation at the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. "While we're fortunate to have many of the prime contractors here, 57 percent of Colorado's aerospace companies actually employ 10 people or fewer." Click here. (7/12)

Who Will Build Houston's First Spaceport? (Source: BisNow)
The process of selecting a design-build firm for a Spaceport at Ellington Airport has begun. Houston Airport System plans to have one under contract by the end of the year. Contractors were invited to submit statements of qualifications by July 27, Virtual Builders Exchange reports. HAS will develop a short list by Aug. 16, and City Council is tentatively scheduled to vote on a recommendation Dec. 6.

The contractor will join the team including Ricondo & Associates, which prepared the master plan, and Reynolds Smith & Hills, which put together design criteria and bridging documents. The work will focus on infrastructure. The future home of the Spaceport is unoccupied and undeveloped. The statement of qualifications details the need for new streets, water, wastewater, power distribution and communication facilities. (7/12)

Kodiak Pacific Spaceport Complex Participates in Missile Defense Test (Source: KAKM)
Kodiak Island’s rocket launch facility was one of the players in a missile defense test this week. The Alaska Aerospace Corporation is in a multi-year agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense Missile Defense Agency for a maximum of $80.4 million, according to Alaska Aerospace CEO Craig Campbell.

“For this year, they’re gonna be doing a couple of launches of the THAAD missile, the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense program, that the military has been actively using for a while,” Campbell said. U.S. Missile defense has drawn even more attention following a North Korea missile test last week.

The U.S. Department of Defense reported that, according to U.S. Pacific Command, North Korea had launched a missile on July 4 which traveled for 37 minutes and landed in the Sea of Japan. This most recent U.S. exercise tested defense against an intermediate-range missile. (7/12)

Spaceport Camden Will Prompt Gwinnett-Style Growth (Source: Savannah Now)
I was in the commercial real estate business in Atlanta for 35 years before moving to St. Simons Island in 2001. Perhaps the biggest adjustment I had to make was the transition from a very dynamic job growth economy in Atlanta to a pretty much weak job growth economy in Coastal Georgia, which includes Camden County.

I applaud Steve Howard and the Camden Board of Commissioners for the vision and guts to make Space Port Camden a reality. When Space Port Camden happens (and it will happen), it will create much excitement and opportunity not only for Camden County but all the Georgia coastal counties and the state of Georgia as well. (7/12)

Smallest-Ever Star Discovered by Astronomers (Source: University of Cambridge)
The smallest star yet measured has been discovered by a team of astronomers led by the University of Cambridge. With a size just a sliver larger than that of Saturn, the gravitational pull at its stellar surface is about 300 times stronger than what humans feel on Earth.

The star is likely as small as stars can possibly become, as it has just enough mass to enable the fusion of hydrogen nuclei into helium. If it were any smaller, the pressure at the centre of the star would no longer be sufficient to enable this process to take place. Hydrogen fusion is also what powers the Sun, and scientists are attempting to replicate it as a powerful energy source here on Earth. (7/12)

Gender-Equity Efforts Win CAASTRO a Golden Award (Source: CAASTRO)
A Gender Action Toolkit and a raft of family-friendly initiatives have won CAASTRO, the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics, a Gold Pleiades Award for promoting gender equity. The award is given by the Inclusion, Diversity and Equity in Astronomy (IDEA) Chapter of the Astronomical Society of Australia (ASA) and was presented on 11 July at the ASA’s annual scientific meeting in Canberra, Australia.

“In Australia, women make up a third of astronomy PhD students but only a fifth of professional astronomers, and that number hasn’t changed in a decade,” CAASTRO Director Professor Elaine Sadler (University of Sydney) said. “We want to stop women dropping out of astronomy unnecessarily.” (7/12)

What ‘Teleporting’ a Photon to Space Means (Source: Cosmos)
A team of Chinese researchers has reported the first successful ‘quantum teleportation’ to space. Using the Micius satellite, launched in August 2016 specifically to perform such cutting-edge quantum experiments, the scientists used pairs of entangled particles to recreate exactly the properties of a photon on Earth in a photon in orbit.

Ji-Gang Ren, of the University of Science and Technology of China, and colleagues write that they have accomplished “the first quantum teleportation of independent single-photon qubits from a ground observatory to a low Earth orbit satellite—through an up-link channel – with a distance up to 1,400 km”.

Though this feat is called quantum teleportation, no actual teleportation of objects occurs. It’s a way of transmitting information about a particle; while it sounds exotic, it is routinely used in laboratories on Earth. Entanglement is a property of particles created at the same time which exist in a shared state, such that actions affecting one particle also affect the other. This holds even when the particles are separated by a great distance. (7/12)

Arizona Challenger Space Center to Close After Building Sold, Now Looking for New Home (Source: ABC15)
The Arizona Challenger Space Center in Peoria will close in August after its building was sold, but its operators don't plan on leaving the area. Executive Director Beverly Swayman confirmed Tuesday that the space center will close on August 5.

The team will then have to clear the 28,000-square-foot building of its flight simulator, artifacts, and displays by September 30, a time-consuming and costly task, she said. It is not clear who bought the building or how it will be used. What is clear is that the space center has to find a new home. (7/12)

What You Need To Know About The Space Law Congress Is Considering (Source: The Federalist)
Want to make money in space? It appears that Congress wants to help. It also appears from what Congress has so far proposed that their help will have only a limited value. The heart of the problem is twofold. First, the regulatory framework that American companies must navigate to get projects off the ground is difficult and complex. They must deal with multiple government agencies whose conflicting needs cause delays and increased costs. Sometimes this bureaucracy kills projects entirely.

Second, there is significant worry in the investment community about the uncertainty of property rights in space. Article II of the Outer Space Treaty forbids countries from claiming territory in space, which means it is difficult for capitalist countries like the United States to establish secure property rights for its citizens on any territory in space.

Furthermore, Article VI of the treaty requires signatory nations to regulate the efforts of their citizens beyond Earth orbit and on other planets, something U.S. law so far neglects to do. The complex regulations that do exist apply only to launch operations and activities in orbit. (7/12)

Apart From Ghana, These Other Sub-Saharan Countries Have Satellites in Space (Source: Ventures)
On July 7 Africa and the world at large celebrated the successful launch of Ghana’s first satellite into space. This technological feat was made possible by the efforts of a team from a private University in the West African country, the All Nations University. “It has opened the door for us to do a lot of activities from space,”  Dr Richard Damoah, the product coordinator told BBC.

GhanaSat-1 will be used to monitor Ghana’s coastline for mapping purposes and to collect data in that respect. The launch, which was made possible by collaboration with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), was a 2-year project that cost $50,000. Apart from Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa are currently the only sub-Saharan African countries taking the lead in this sphere. Countries such as Ethiopia, Angola and Kenya also are currently working towards launching a satellite into space.

According to Scott Firsing , Nigeria’s space agency, the National Space Research and Development Agency, flies several multimillion-dollar satellites. Nigeria has used its satellites to monitor the oil-rich Niger Delta. Its satellites have also been used in election monitoring, providing crucial information about voters who may otherwise have been overlooked by poll workers. Satellites have also proved useful in the fight against extremist groups such as Boko Haram. (7/12)

Santa Fe Institute Launches an InterPlanetary Project with Galactic Ambitions (Source: Santa Fe Reporter)
Science fiction lovers will probably recognize the galactic tribunal trope from any number of graphic novels, books or films. Santa Fe Institute President David Krakauer introduces the notion of cosmic judges rendering decrees on humanity as part of a thought experiment. So, at the galactic tribunal, where you’re asked, ‘What has your species contributed to the universe?’ you could stand up and say, unequivocally, ‘This was an amazing accomplishment and I could tell anyone on this planet or any other one that I thought this was something that was worthwhile.’”

Questions such as these, which require considering humanity and life on Earth from an interplanetary perspective, drive SFI’s new InterPlanetary Project. It launches July 18 with a panel discussion between scientists, writers, artists and thinkers whose work all revolves in various ways around humanity’s future—in space and otherwise. (7/12)

SIA: State of Satellite Industry is "Positive" (Source: Space Policy Online)
The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) released its annual report on the "State of the Satellite Industry" today with data on how the industry fared in 2016 compared with prior years.  SIA President Tom Stroup said 2016 "was once again a positive year," though results for the four industry market segments varied widely. Global satellite manufacturing revenue dropped 13 percent, for example, while satellite ground equipment revenue grew 7 percent.

SIA released the 2017 report, the 20th in the series, at a press conference this morning in Washington, D.C.  The report was prepared for SIA by Bryce Space and Technology.

Overall, worldwide satellite industry revenue grew by two percent in 2016 to a new high of $261 billion, up from $255 billion in 2015. The 2 percent growth rate is less than the 3 percent in 2015, however, and not all segments fared as well as others. Satellite services revenue was flat, satellite manufacturing revenue decreased 13 percent, launch industry revenue increased 2 percent, and ground equipment revenue increased 7 percent. (7/12)

Starshot: Inside the Ludicrous Plan to Send a Spacecraft to Our Neighbor Star (Source: Popular Mechanics)
As a species, we have made magnificent strides in robotic space exploration in the past decade. It's time to start talking about how we are going to explore the stars. The Breakthrough Initiatives, created by Russian billionaire physicist Yuri Milner, is one of the most forward-thinking space exploration groups in the world. Among Breakthrough's many ambitious projects is Breakthrough Starshot.

The goal is to send hundreds of gram-sized spacecraft to the nearest star—Proxima Centauri, some 4.2 light-years away—and have them arrive within our lifetimes. The craft would then attempt to communicate with Earth and transmit photos of Proxima Centauri and its orbiting planet, Proxima b, back to us. Hundreds of researchers and engineers met to flesh out Breakthrough's many ambitious space exploration goals. Starshot attracted perhaps the most interest due to its thrilling prospects and many technical challenges to overcome.

The verdict? "It looks feasible," according to Harvard science professor Avi Loeb who chairs the advisory committee for Breakthrough Starshot. Even though the target star system is closer to us than any other, it's still mind-bogglingly far away: 25 trillion miles. Click here. (7/12)

One of the Biggest Icebergs in Recorded History Just Broke Loose from Antarctica (Source: Washington Post)
Scientists announced Wednesday that a much anticipated break at the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica has occurred, unleashing a massive iceberg that is more than 2,200 square miles in area and weighs a trillion tons. In other words, the iceberg — one of the largest in recorded history to splinter off the Antarctic — is close to the size of Delaware and consists of almost four times as much ice as the fast melting island of Greenland loses in a year. It is expected to be given the name ‘A68’ soon, scientists said.

“Its volume is twice that of Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes,” wrote researchers with Project MIDAS, a research group at Swansea and Aberystwyth Universities in Wales that has been monitoring the situation closely by satellite. The break was detected by one NASA satellite, Aqua MODIS, and confirmed by a second, they said. The European Space Agency has also confirmed the break.

The iceberg contains so much mass that if all of it were added anew to the ocean, it would drive almost 3 millimeters of global sea level rise (it takes 360 billion tons of ice to produce 1 millimeter of ocean rise). In this case though, the iceberg is already afloat so there won’t be a substantial sea level change. The Project MIDAS group said Wednesday that the effect of the break is to shrink the size of the floating Larsen C ice shelf by 12 percent. (7/12)

First Object Teleported to Earth's Orbit (Source: BBC)
Chinese researchers have teleported a photon from the Gobi desert to a satellite orbiting five hundred kilometers above the earth. This is achieved through quantum entanglement, a process where two particles react as one with no physical connection between them. Click here. (7/11)

NASA to Test Fission Power for Future Mars Colony (Source: WUWT)
As NASA makes plans to one day send humans to Mars, one of the key technical gaps the agency is working to fill is how to provide enough power on the Red Planet’s surface for fuel production, habitats and other equipment. One option: small nuclear fission reactors, which work by splitting uranium atoms to generate heat, which is then converted into electric power.

NASA’s technology development branch has been funding a project called Kilopower for three years, with the aim of demonstrating the system at the Nevada National Security Site near Las Vegas. Testing is due to start in September and end in January 2018. (7/9)

ISU is Seeking a Dynamic Experienced Individual for the Position of President (Source: ISU)
Founded in 1987, ISU is the world’s leading private, non-profit institution of higher education, dedicated to the development of outer space for peaceful purposes through international, intercultural and interdisciplinary education and research programs.

ISU offers a variety of programs ranging from its full-year central campus based Master of Space Studies, to its Space Studies Program, a two-month professional development program that has convened annually every Summer since 1988 at various locations around the world, to its one-month Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program, held annually in Australia, to Professional Development Programs held in various countries. (7/10)

Forget Starfleet Academy—Future Astronauts Will Be Trained by These Companies (Source: Fast Company)
Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin recently released images of the spaceships it says could be ferrying paying guests to suborbital space in 2018. At the same time, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has hundreds of $250,000 deposits from people who want seats on his spacecraft, and SpaceX’s Elon Musk aims to take a pair of tourists around the moon.

As commercial spaceflights for tourists, scientists, and workers in the burgeoning space economy become more common, experts say those would-be astronauts will need training that goes well beyond earthbound airline safety briefings. Anyone venturing into space will need to know how to deal with space sickness, the effects of acceleration and weightlessness, and even the potential for hallucinations.

And those going to do scientific or other work will have to be ready to use their limited time optimally—time outside the earth’s gravitational pull will cost something like $688 per second, according to Gregory Kennedy, education director at the NASTAR Center. Click here. (7/10)

Alien Ice on Earth (Source: Stanford University)
Stanford researchers have for the first time captured the freezing of water, molecule-by-molecule, into a strange, dense form called ice VII ("ice seven"), found naturally in otherworldly environments, such as when icy planetary bodies collide.

In addition to helping scientists better understand those remote worlds, the findings - published online July 11 in Physical Review Letters - could reveal how water and other substances undergo transitions from liquids to solids. Learning to manipulate those transitions might open the way someday to engineering materials with exotic new properties. (7/11)

Women of Color Face Staggering Harassment in Space Science (Source: Washington Post)
When anthropologist Kathryn Clancy saw the results of her recent survey on harassment in the space sciences, she burst into tears. Forty percent of women of color said that they felt unsafe in their current job as a result of harassment about their gender. “It shocked and saddened me,” said Clancy, an associate professor at the University of Illinois. She called the statistic “one of the strongest pieces of evidence that something is terribly wrong.”

The survey results, published Monday in the Journal of Geophyscial Research: Planets, illuminate the environment endured by many people in astronomy and planetary science, particularly women and especially women of color. Almost 90 percent of the more than 400 participants in the survey said that they had witnessed sexist, racist or otherwise disparaging remarks in their workplaces. (7/11)

Satellite Contractor RUAG Starts Production in Titusville (Source: Florida Today)
With his company's production line in Titusville now in place, RUAG Space USA official Franck Mouriaux is poised to start full-scale production of satellite components. "I'm really looking forward to the boxes piling up in front of the door," ready for shipment, said Mouriaux. Officials at RUAG and its satellite-making customer, OneWeb, on Tuesday celebrated the completion of the construction at RUAG's Titusville plant.

Production of satellite structures is set to begin at the RUAG plant at the Port Canaveral Logistics Center in south Titusville. Mouriaux said the RUAG plant initially will have about 10 employees. But that will ramp up to 40 to 50 in four to five years, as RUAG reaches deals with other customers for its space satellite hardware. (7/11)

Small Satellites Driving Space Industry Growth (Source: Reuters)
Small satellites used for observing conditions on the earth are the fastest growing segment of the $260.5 billion global satellite industry, the Satellite Industries Association said in an annual report. Small satellites, some no bigger than a shoe box, generated an 11 percent jump in annual revenue for Earth imagery in 2016 and a growing share of the 1,459 operating spacecraft that circled the planet at the end of the year, the report said.

The orbital fleet includes 499 satellites that weigh up to 1,323 pounds (600 kg), many of them used for Earth observation and remote sensing, said Carissa Christensen, chief executive of Bryce Technology and Space, which wrote the report for the trade association. Satellite services, including home television, broadband and Earth observation services, collectively generated $127.7 billion of revenue in 2016, the biggest single piece of the industry, according to the report.

Satellites used for earth imagery accounted for just $2 billion of the total industry but accounted for 11 percent of the sector’s growth, according to the report. (7/11)

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