August 1, 2017

Trump's Budget Forgets That Science is Insurance for America (Source: WIRED)
President Trump's proposed 2018 budget will never actually determine how the government spends your money: POTUS proposes and Congress disposes. But that's no reason for relief. In fact, it makes this document even more of a nightmare. It doesn't direct funding, but it does put the Trump administration's underlying philosophy of governance on display. And it's a harsh one. Click here. (8/1)

SES Satellite Woes Await Launch of New Bird in 2018 (Source: Space News)
Twelve transponders on an aging SES communications satellite have failed. The company said that it lost 12 transponders last month on NSS-806, a 19-year-old C- and Ku-band satellite, representing nearly one third of that satellite's overall capacity. SES said that malfunction, along with the failure of the AMC-9 spacecraft in June, will have only a temporary effect on the company's finances given the scheduled launch early next year of a new satellite, SES-14. (8/1)

Navy Interested in Army Collaboration for Small Satellite Comms (Source: Breaking Defense)
The Navy is interested in cooperating with the Army on using small satellites for tactical communications. An unnamed senior defense official said that, in the event of a conflict with an adversary like China, the Navy and Army will need to cooperate using simple, low-bandwidth communications. That could be performed using small satellites launched on short notice, a concept long advocated by proponents of operationally responsive space. (8/1)

Jets Retrofitted with Telescopes for Bird's-Eye View of Eclipse (Source: CBC)
NASA has retrofitted a pair of WB-57F jets with telescopes to follow the course of the Aug. 21 solar eclipse. "These could well turn out to be the best ever observations of high-frequency phenomena in the corona," said project co-investigator Dan Seaton of the University of Colorado Boulder. (7/28)

Supersonic X-Plane's Unusual Inlet Performs Well in Wind Tunnel (Source: Flight Global)
A series of wind tunnel tests revealed the unusual engine inlet positioning for NASA’s supersonic X-plane meets the performance goals for the Lockheed Martin-designed aircraft, a NASA Glenn Research Center aeronautics engineer says. The quiet supersonic transport (QueSST) X-plane demonstrator will begin a series of flight tests in 2020 with an inlet placed atop the fuselage and behind the cockpit, a rare configuration for a supersonic aircraft not seen since early 1950s designs, such as the Douglas X-3 Stiletto and Convair F2Y Sea Dart.

The unusual engine placement is driven by the purpose of the QueSST demonstrator, explains Ray Castner, a NASA Glenn engineer, speaking at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual event in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on 25 July. NASA is funding the flight demonstration to evaluate how boom-shaping techniques developed after decades of research affect how humans perceive the acoustic disruption caused by breaking the sound barrier. (8/1)

Winston Scott at Florida Tech: Launching into the Final Frontier (Source: Florida Tech)
Scott, Senior Vice President for External Relations and Economic Development at Florida Tech, believes education was integral to making his dreams take flight, a message he has shared with students. In addition to representing Florida Tech in the community and supporting the university’s research park, Scott is a professor of aeronautics and music. Click here. (8/1)

Why the SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket Just Might Work (Source: Popular Mechanics)
The Falcon 9's cycle—launch, then return of the first stage to terra firma or to a drone ship in the ocean—is becoming routine. Musk has already indicated he's planning to return all three components of the Falcon Heavy's first stage to Earth. The Falcon Heavy will use a common procedure for the three-part stage: The side boosters, clones of its center booster (essentially, each the first stage of a Falcon 9), burn out prior to the center and are jettisoned.

The likely plan is to land the two outer boosters on solid ground, as their shorter burn times mean they will not have traveled as far, while the center booster will use a drone-ship landing, which has the flexibility to be placed wherever in the ocean is convenient, based on the rocket's trajectory. The more stages SpaceX can successfully recover, the cheaper launches will be for its customers. Click here. (8/1)

NASA Is Picking Older Astronauts Who Leave Earlier (Source: NASA Watch)
"NASA's periodic selection of astronauts is a highly selective process accepting applications from the general population, wherein the mechanics of selection are not made public. This research was an effort to determine if biases (specifically age) exist in the process and, if so, at which points they might manifest ... the most striking observation was the loss of age diversity at each stage of selection. Applicants younger or older than approximately 40 years were significantly less likely to receive invitations for interviews and were significantly less likely to be selected as an astronaut." Click here. (7/31)

First Iodine Fueled Ion Engines Pass Major Milestone (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Space propulsion firm Busek Co. Inc. confirms its ‘BIT-3’ ion thruster system completed two separate Critical D esign Reviews (CDR) for upcoming CubeSat space flight programs. CDRs are major milestones prior to manufacturing flight hardware, the initial set of BIT-3 flight systems being scheduled for delivery Q1 2018. The iodine fueled solar electric propulsion systems are the first of their kind which enable an entirely new range of small spacecraft missions.

Two public missions relying upon the BIT-3 for high delta-v propulsion include Morehead State University’s Lunar IceCube and Arizona State University’s LunaH-Map. The NASA-funded, University-lead science missions will each place a 14 kilogram (30.9 lbs.) CubeSat into lunar polar orbit after deployment from NASA’s Space Launch System EM-1 mission. The miniature solar electric propulsion system incorporates several patented and patent-pending features, including the use of solid iodine propellant versus traditional high-pressure Xenon gas. (8/1)

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