July 25, 2017

SpaceX Builds Above-Ground Walkway to Rocket Factory After Pedestrian Injuries (Source: Daily Breeze)
Six months after a pair of traffic collisions injured SpaceX workers in a crosswalk from the company’s headquarters to its parking garage, a prefabricated pedestrian bridge has been installed linking the two structures. (7/25)

Russian Super-Heavy Booster to Launch 70-Ton Payloads (Source: Tass)
The new Russian super-heavy booster vehicle will have a capability to bring payloads of more than 70 tons to the low-earth orbit, the Russian state space corporation Roscosmos said in a bidding documentation uploaded at the web site of governmental procurements. The super-heavy booster vehicle will have a universal launch pad suitable for liftoffs of the vehicles of various load-carrying capacity. Also, it will give an opportunity for ballistic testing of the central block and the third-stage block of the super-heavy booster vehicle with the diameter of 7.7 meters.

Roscosmos is ready to pay 3.4 million rubles (about $57,500) to a company that will do a technical assessment of the project, which it plans to implement at the Vostochny Space Center in Russia’s Far East. The launch pad at Vostochny will have the same principles at launch pad No. 250 at the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan that was built for the Energiya booster vehicle. This will be a universal liftoff stand for the medium-class Soyuz-5 booster vehicles and for cluster of two, three or five boosters of the kind. (7/25)

NASA Turns to Tupperware to Help Grow Space Veggies (Source: New Atlas)
Growing fresh vegetables aboard the International Space Station (ISS) may be a morale booster, but it does take up a lot of the crew's schedule. In an effort to make space gardening less time consuming, NASA is teaming up with Tupperware Brands and the technology company Techshot to improve the current experimental hydroponics system used aboard the station.

First flown to the ISS in 2014, the Vegetable Production System, (aka the "Veggie" facility), is an experiment for growing plants in zero gravity in a plastic greenhouse. It consists of a collapsible plastic tent with a controllable atmosphere lit by red, blue, and green LED lamps to promote growth. Since dirt and space travel don't mix, the seeds are embedded in rooting "pillows" that take the place of soil to retain water and give the roots somewhere to grow. (7/24)

Embry-Riddle Course Prepares Students for Space Tourism Business (Source: ERAU)
With space tourism becoming a reality, Embry-Riddle Worldwide’s College of Business recently launched a Space Tourism course to help introduce students to the emerging business of space tourism and how it will impact the future of commercial space operations. Click here. (7/24)

Australia's Speedcast Buying UltiSat, Seeks Foothold in US Defense Market (Source: Space News)
Speedcast is buying an American satellite network operator to enter the defense market. Australia-based Speedcast said it is acquiring UltiSat, a Maryland company that operates a teleport in Denmark, for at least $65 million. Speedcast said that the acquisition would allow it to enter the U.S. government market for satellite communications, noting that UltiSat's customers include the Defense Information Systems Agency. (7/25)

Russia's Post-ISS Space Station Plans Uncertain (Source: Space News)
Russia's plans for a space station after the end of the International Space Station remain uncertain. Igor Komarov, head of Roscosmos, said earlier this year that Russia would separate its modules from the ISS in 2024 to form its own space station, then said a short time later that Russia was open to an extension of the ISS to 2028. More recently, Russia and China have expressed interest in space cooperation that could include a Russian role in China's proposed space station, although there are technical hurdles to any such effort. (7/25)

Luxembourg Attracts UK In-Space Manufacturer (Source: Luxemburger Wort)
Luxembourg's space resources initiative has signed up another company. The government of Luxembourg announced Monday a memorandum of understanding with Kleos Space, a new company that plans to use in-space manufacturing techniques to develop composite antenna booms for use in commercial signals-intelligence satellites. The five-person company, wholly owned by British company Magna Parva, will operate from Luxembourg and plans to grow to 60 people in the next five years. (7/25)

XCOR Co-Founder Joins Deep Space Industries (Source: DSI)
A co-founder of XCOR Aerospace has joined Deep Space Industries. Doug Jones, formerly chief test engineer at XCOR, will be the director of propulsion systems at Deep Space Industries, a company developing small satellites and other technologies needed for asteroid mining. Jones was one of four co-founders of XCOR, and the last to leave the company. XCOR laid off all of its employees at the end of June, retaining a handful as contractors. (7/25)

Senators Sending Lofty Space Corps Hopes Down to Earth (Source: Defense News)
Rep. Mike Rogers, the House Strategic Forces Subcommittee chairman and Congress’ chief advocate for a new branch of the military focused on space, issued a dire warning to fellow lawmakers. The United States faces very real threats from Russia and China, he said, and “war-fighting has become absolutely dependent on space.” Satellites make up the American military’s nervous system, providing communications, intelligence, navigation. Its adversaries have wisely begun developing anti-satellite capabilities, like rockets, kamikaze satellites and directed energy weapons to take them out — which would cripple the U.S. in a war.

Proponents of a space force say only a new service, removed from the Air Force’s organizational and management structure, would have the leeway to shore up America’s eroding advantage in space. And the proposal sparked headlines that made the whole thing seem like it was all but accomplished. But several key lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee would at best need serious convincing — a bad sign for the proposal becoming reality.

Ultimately, lawmakers in the two chambers must reconcile their versions of the annual defense policy bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act. Tellingly, Rogers’ counterpart in the Senate — Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb. — said she was “not sold on the idea,” even after a visit with Rogers. Florida Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson a former astronaut, was dismissive: “It’s not going anywhere.” (7/22)

Is Space Warfare’s Final Frontier? (Source: Space News)
It’s one thing to prepare for the eventuality of warfare in space. It’s another to assert that space warfare is inevitable. Many have predicted this since the launch of Sputnik, and all have been proven wrong—so far. The task before us isn’t just to acquire capabilities to fight, if necessary, but also to prevent warfare from occurring. Success involves deterrence as well as reassurance in the form of diplomatic engagement. Click here. (7/24)

Giant Radio Telescope Scaled Back to Contain Costs (Source: Nature)
Designs for the world’s largest radio telescope have been scaled back to save money — a decision that astronomers say could affect its ability to peer deep into the Universe’s past. The Square Kilometer Array (SKA), a telescope 50 times more sensitive than current instruments, is expected to cost billions of dollars. Its final design calls for around two thousand radio dishes in Africa, together with up to a million antennas in Australia, that will have a total light-collecting area of roughly a square kilometre — hence the project's name.

But the first phase of construction, called SKA1, is a more modest affair. Already slimmed down from a larger design proposed in 2013, it now comprises 194 dishes in South Africa and around 130,000 antenna in Australia. In March, the SKA's board said that the project would have to find further cuts of around 20% so that it could be built within a $785 million cap imposed by the project’s ten funders — Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK. And at a meeting in the Netherlands the board decided to make the savings by, among other measures, scaling back SKA1’s computing power and crowding its antennas and radio dishes closer together. (7/24)

Scientists Spy New Evidence of Water in the Moon's Interior (Source: Phys.org)
A new study of satellite data finds that numerous volcanic deposits distributed across the surface of the Moon contain unusually high amounts of trapped water compared with surrounding terrains. The finding of water in these ancient deposits, which are believed to consist of glass beads formed by the explosive eruption of magma coming from the deep lunar interior, bolsters the idea that the lunar mantle is surprisingly water-rich.

Scientists had assumed for years that the interior of the Moon had been largely depleted of water and other volatile compounds. That began to change in 2008, when a research team detected trace amounts of water in some of the volcanic glass beads brought back to Earth from the Apollo 15 and 17 missions to the Moon. In 2011, further study of tiny crystalline formations within those beads revealed that they actually contain similar amounts of water as some basalts on Earth. That suggests that the Moon's mantle—parts of it, at least—contain as much water as Earth's. (7/24)

Court Dismisses Orbital ATK Suit Against DARPA (Source: Defense News)
A Virginia court has dismissed Orbital ATK's complaint against a government robotic satellite-servicing program on Thursday, according to a court memo. Orbital ATK filed a suit in February against the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites program, alleging it violates National Space Policy. The policy, issued by then-President Barack Obama in 2010, states that the government should not subsidize space-related activities in which private entities are willing to invest on their own. (7/24)

Deep Space Habitat Prototype Planned at KSC (Source: Engadget)
NASA has given Lockheed Martin the go-ahead to build a full-scale prototype of the deep space habitat it proposed for the NextSTEP program. That means in around 18 months' time, it might start testing new space travel technologies for the agency. No, not in orbit, but right inside a facility at Kennedy Space Center. To meet the agency's affordability goals, the aerospace corporation won't be building the habitat from scratch -- instead, it will refurbish an old container space shuttles used to transfer cargo to the ISS. Plus, it will rely on a mixture of virtual and augmented reality to design the prototype. (7/24)

Russian First 3D Printed Satellite to Go Into Space (Source: Tass)
The Russian crew of the International Space Station (ISS) on August 17 will launch into the open space the first 3D printed Russian satellite. The Tomsk-TPU-120 satellite has been at ISS since spring, 2016, awaiting going into the space, press service of the Tomsk Polytechnic University said on Monday.

Russian cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin and Sergei Ryazansky will perform the launch. The satellite will remain in the open space for the term of four to six months. It will report to the Earth the temperatures on board, on plates and batteries, and parameters of electronic components. Thus, scientists would be able watch states of materials to understand whether they could be used further in construction of space apparatuses. (7/24)

NASA May Give Keys to Spitzer Telescope to Private User (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
NASA is open to handing over operations of its Spitzer Space Telescope to a private organization. At a meeting last week, Paul Hertz, director of NASA's astrophysics division, said NASA would "welcome" proposals to take over operations of the space telescope once NASA funding for it ends in 2019. Spitzer launched in 2003 as the last of NASA's four "Great Observatories" and, while aging and drifting farther from Earth, may still be able of doing worthwhile science after NASA funding for it ends. (7/24)

Australia Considers Funding For Spaceport (Source: NT News)
An Australian agency is considering providing financial backing for a launch site for a little-known company. The NT Industry Development Fund, in Australia's Northern Territory, is considering using some of its initial fund of $160 million to back a proposal by Equatorial Launch Australia for a launch site in the territory. The spaceport would support suborbital and orbital launches, but it was not clear which vehicles would use the facility if built. The proposal is said to be in the top 25 percent of 20 proposals under consideration by the fund. (7/24)

Moon Express Plans Lunar South Pole Observatory (Source: Moon Express)
Moon Express has signed a technology development contract for a lunar south pole observatory. The contract, with the International Lunar Observatory Association, covers advanced landing technologies needed for Moon Express' lander. Moon Express said it plans to land a small observatory, called International Lunar Observatory 1, in an area near the south pole of the moon that is in near-constant sunlight. That mission is scheduled for launch in 2019, and will be the second mission for the company, after its initial lunar lander mission that seeks to win the Google Lunar X Prize. (7/24)

Where is the Frontier Between Earth and Space? (Source: Daily Liberal)
Where does space begin? Believe it or not, this seemingly simple question does not have an easy answer. There is no physical place where Earth’s atmosphere stops and space begins. The air just gets thinner and thinner and eventually fades away. On his 108-minute flight in 1961, the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first human being in space, went into orbit around the Earth. By all accounts, he crossed the mysterious border between the Earth and space. Or did he? Click here. (7/24)

Watch a Bunch of Satellites Launch Into Space... From Space (Source: Mashable)
Watching things launch into space is awesome. Watching things launch into space from space is even more awesome. The company Planet, which launches satellites into the Earth's orbit in order to take photographs of the planet, pointed one of its Dove satellite constellations — which is several satellites operating in a cluster — at a launch pad in Kazakhstan, capturing one of its rockets launching into the sky. The rocket was carrying 48 more satellites, which it successfully deployed into the Earth's orbit. Click here. (7/24)

CubeCab To Launch 1,000 Satellites For ThumbSat (Source: Cision)
In the largest single agreement to date, educational satellite company ThumbSat has agreed to launch 1,000 of its satellites on CubeCab's Cab-3A rocket family. "We couldn't be more excited to work with CubeCab," said Patricia Mayes, Education Outreach Manager for ThumbSat. "NASA is championing 'the world's lightest satellite' to test concepts in a suborbital environment. At ThumbSat we created an affordable opportunity for innovators and students to prove basic concepts in low-earth orbit."

The small satellite marketplace has expanded dramatically in recent years. Launch services have not kept pace. CubeCab's target is to launch a rocket every business day, dropping lead time for satellite operators from 1-2 years into the realm of 30 days or less.

"CubeCab's dedicated launch capabilities allow virtually any kind of satellite – research, maneuvering, communications, or imaging – to reach orbit quickly and efficiently," said Prael. "We're very pleased that ThumbSat selected the Cab-3A family of launchers, and believe it is the right vehicle to usher in a new era of low cost, reliable space launch." (7/24)

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