July 7, 2017

FAA to Award $335M in AIP Grants (Source: Air Transport World)
The Federal Aviation Administration will award airports nationwide a total of $335.3 million in Airport Improvement Program grants. The grants will be issued in time for the airports to at least start construction on projects before winter. Among the grant winners is the Space Coast Regional Airport, across the river from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. (7/6)

Special Budweiser Packaging Celebrates Florida as Gateway to the Moon (Source: WESH)
Budweiser is unveiling new bottle and can designs for the summer, and one of them celebrates the Sunshine State. The Florida bottle features our state name, the motto “gateway to the moon” and the nickname “the Sunshine State.” Budweiser is releasing similar cans for each state where its beer is brewed. They'll be available through September. (7/7)

Russia to Carry Out Five Launches From Vostochny Space Center in 2018 (Source: Space Daily)
Russia will conduct five launches from the Vostochny space center in Russia's Far East in 2018, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said. Vostochny is expected to reduce Russia's dependency on the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan. Baikonur is on lease to Russia until 2050. "First two, then five are planned next year, then onward and upward," Rogozin said in an interview. (7/7)

Astronauts Practice Lunar Astronaut Rescue Off Florida Coast (Source: Space Daily)
During a simulated space mission underwater last week, ESA tested an ingenious concept to bring astronauts safely back to base if they are incapacitated during lunar exploration. Four 'aquanauts', including ESA astronaut Pedro Duque and NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, took part in NASA's 22nd Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO-22) mission, spending 10 days in the Aquarius habitat 20 m underwater off the coast of the Florida Keys.

The goal is to simulate aspects of space exploration to test new equipment, procedures and operations. The aquanauts made regular 'waterwalks' and, by adjusting their buoyancy, they simulated gravity levels found on the Moon or Mars. With its sandy seabed and uneven rocky terrain, the ocean floor around Aquarius provides an ideal Moon-like environment.

ESA astronaut trainer Herve Stevenin joined NEEMO-22 to test a new ESA device designed to help a stranded astronaut on the Moon. An astronaut would not be able to carry or drag a fallen colleague to safety because spacesuits are heavy and limit movement. The Lunar Evacuation System Assembly allows for quick recovery of a Moonwalker while keeping the limited mobility of a spacesuit in mind. A foldable pyramid-like structure on wheels opens above the astronaut, it lifts the incapacitated figure using pulleys and places it on a wheeled stretcher. (7/7)

XCOR Must Meet Incentive Salary Obligations at Midland Spaceport (Source: Midland Reporter-Telegram
XCOR Aerospace thus far has met its obligations as required by the economic development agreement signed nearly five years ago with the Midland Development Corp. and has collected $9 million in performance incentives, relocation payments and renovations. Still, the space industry company faces payroll, capital investment and rent obligations that officials said will be a challenge considering its financial status. The economic development agreement with MDC shows XCOR must meet obligations of $8 million in total salaries and wages this year and $12 million next year. (7/6)

Japanese Public Skeptical of Crewed Lunar Mission Plan (Source: Nikkei Asian Review)
The Japanese public is skeptical of plans by JAXA to send astronauts to the moon. The space agency released plans last week that included landing Japanese astronauts on the moon by 2030, taking advantage of a cislunar habitat being planned by NASA. The proposal has, so far, failed to win wide support among the Japanese public, some of whom wonder if the money that would be required for such a venture would be better spent on schools and hospitals. (7/7)

China Plans Sea Launch Capability (Source: Xinhua)
China is planning sea-based launches of small rockets. An executive with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation said Friday that China has a "clear plan" for launching small satellites into low-inclination orbits from ships. The proposal would involve solid-fuel rockets, likely a version of the Long March 11, launching from a converted freighter. A test launch could take place later this year, with commercial missions starting in 2018. (7/7)

Mars More Hostile Than Thought (Source: Space.com)
A new study has provided additional evidence that the surface of Mars may be hostile to life. The laboratory research found that the combination of ultraviolet radiation that reaches the Martian surface, along with perchlorate compounds previously detected on the surface, can kill bacteria within minutes. The combination is even more potent when mixed with iron oxides and hydrogen peroxide, also found in Martian soil. Those ingredients "render the present-day surface more uninhabitable than previously thought," researchers concluded, which make it less likely that spacecraft from Earth could have contaminated the planet with terrestrial life. (7/7)

NASA KSC Scientists Designing Mars Dust Filter (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
One of the challenges that astronauts will face on Mars is the presence of the fine Martian dust. Not only can the dust get into equipment and cause damage, but also it is extremely toxic with perchlorates. However, scientists at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center are working on this problem. Dr. Carlos Calle, lead scientist at the Electrostatics and Surface Physics Laboratory, and physicist Jay Phillips are developing an electrostatic precipitator which will filter out the dust and enable the Martian air to be used for in-situ resource utilization (ISRU).

Unlike the Apollo Moon landing missions, which took with them everything that would be needed for the duration of the missions, Mars astronauts will, to a certain extent, have to live off the land. Mars, despite its stark, airless, radioactive surface, is rich in materials useful to future Mars explorations. (7/7)

Pence Talks Moon and Mars Goals at KSC, Offers Few Details (Source: Space News)
Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday that NASA would focus more on human space exploration, including missions to the moon and Mars, but gave few details. Pence, speaking at the Kennedy Space Center, said the Trump administration would "usher in a new era of space leadership" that included, ultimately, "American boots on the face of Mars." Pence gave few new policy details in the speech, but did state that the first meeting of the new National Space Council, reestablished by an executive order signed by President Trump last week, will take place by the end of the summer. (7/7)

DigitalGlobe Picks Loral to Develop Next WorldView Constellation (Source: SSL)
DigitalGlobe, in the process of being acquired by MDA, has selected MDA-owned Space Systems Loral to build a new satellite constellation. SSL will build the satellites for the next-generation WorldView Legion constellation that will provide high-resolution imagery at a much higher frequency than DigitalGlobe's current satellites. DigitalGlobe and MDA revealed the plans for the constellation when MDA announced in February its agreement to acquire DigitalGlobe. The number of satellites the constellation includes was not disclosed in the announcement, but SSL did say the contract was valued at several hundred million dollars. (7/7)

Amazon May Partner With Dish Networki for Video Services (Source: Wall Street Journal)
Amazon is in discussions with Dish Network about a partnership involving wireless communications. The two companies are reportedly in the early stage of talks about using terrestrial wireless spectrum acquired by Dish for Amazon's various business lines, including its streaming video services. The report also stated that Blue Origin, the launch company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, met with EchoStar at a conference earlier this year. (7/7)

DOD Helping Fund Commercial Radar Satellite Systems (Source: New York Times)
The Defense Department is helping fund the development of commercial radar satellites. Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), an arm of the Pentagon that supports development of commercial technologies with military applications, made an undisclosed investment in Capella Space, a Silicon Valley company working on a smallsat system that can provide synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery. The company plans to launch its first satellite by the end of the year. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is also planning to purchase commercial SAR imagery along with conventional satellite images. (7/7)

After Deaths, Roscosmos Taking Steps to Improve Safety (Source: Tass)
Roscosmos is taking steps to improve safety for workers supporting launches from Baikonur after two died in a wildfire last month. The workers were retrieving fragments in a drop zone for a Soyuz launch June 14 in Kazakhstan when they were caught in a wildfire apparently triggered by the falling rocket debris. A truck driver was killed in the fire and the other worker died two weeks later of burns sustained in the fire. Roscosmos said it will perform better monitoring of conditions in drop zones "to minimize possible negative consequences" from launches. (7/7)

Tiny Satellites From Silicon Valley May Help Track North Korea Missiles (Source: New York Times)
For years before North Korea fired its first intercontinental ballistic missile this week, the Pentagon and intelligence experts had sounded a warning: Not only was the North making progress quickly, spy satellite coverage was so spotty that the United States might not see a missile being prepared for launch.

That set off an urgent but quiet search for ways to improve America’s early-warning ability — and the capability to strike missiles while they are on the launchpad. The most intriguing solutions have come from Silicon Valley, where the Obama administration began investing in tiny, inexpensive civilian satellites developed to count cars in Target parking lots and monitor the growth of crops.

Some in the Pentagon accustomed to relying on highly classified, multibillion-dollar satellites, which take years to develop, resisted the move. But as North Korea’s missile program progressed, American officials laid out an ambitious schedule for the first of the small satellites to go up at the end of this year, or the beginning of next. Launched in clusters, some staying in orbit just a year or two, the satellites would provide coverage necessary to execute a new military contingency plan called “Kill Chain.” (7/7)

North Korea’s ICBM Test Renews Calls For Space-Based Kill Layer (Source: Aviation Week)
North Korea’s test of a two-stage intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on July 4 has been met by renewed calls in Washington for a space-based missile defense layer. The rocket launch, which coincided with Independence Day celebrations in the U.S., is believed to be Pyongyang’s first military-grade ICBM. The reclusive nation already possessed long-range rocket technology for space launch.

In a July 5 statement, Riki Ellison, chairman and founder of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA), said the U.S. missile shield must be extended to space “in a big way with both sensors and shooters,” with satellites providing precision observation, tracking, and discrimination of missile threats as well as intercept. (7/6)

US Military’s Secretive Blackbird Is About To Go Hypersonic (Source: Huffington Post)
Aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin has confirmed that its mysterious Skunk Works team are preparing to build a hypersonic replacement to the iconic spy plane the SR-71 Blackbird. Officially unveiled four years ago as the SR-72, the company confirmed that hypersonic technologies have matured enough allowing it to start work on a real prototype. Unlike the Blackbird, the SR-72 will be an unmanned aircraft that can both operate as a spy plane and also launch offensive weaponry.

Using the ramjet engine the SR-72 will be able to reach speeds of up to Mach 6 or 4567mph, making it invulnerable to any and all air defence systems. While technology has moved on, the principle idea behind the SR-72 remains the same as the Blackbird: If you can move fast enough, nothing can hit you. Click here. (7/6)

Report Warns Lawmakers Against Space Treaty Withdrawal (Source: Law360)
A recent report, coincidentally released on the eve of President Donald Trump reconvening the National Space Council last week, says the Outer Space Treaty is outdated, failing to account for modern concerns, but claims attempts to amend or withdraw from the treaty may hurt more than help. (7/5)

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