August 12, 2017

Korea Delays Lunar Orbiter Launch to 2020 (Source: Korea Times)
Korea postponed the launch of its lunar orbiter to 2020 instead of next year, according to the government, Thursday. The Ministry of Science and ICT said it held a national space development committee meeting a day earlier and decided to give the lunar orbiter development project two more years.

The ministry has conducted a thorough inspection on the progress, risk, and schedule of the orbiter development project earlier this year and concluded that it will be difficult to complete the project by 2018 as originally planned. (8/12)

President Trump Needs to Go to the Moon (Source: Foreign Policy)
In just two years, the United States will celebrate the anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, an event that perhaps more than any other represents the American will and capacity to achieve the seemingly impossible. This year, however, we will celebrate a less auspicious anniversary — in December it will have been 45 years since the last man set foot on the Moon, ushering in a long era of diminished American ambitions in space. In recent years, presidential administrations have debated whether Americans should return to the Moon or set their sights on Mars.

But as President Donald Trump devises his strategy for space exploration — which he has described as “essential to our character as a nation…our economy, and our great nation’s security” — he should reject this choice as a false one. To sustainably reinvigorate our human spaceflight program, we should use the Moon as a stepping stone to Mars and beyond, while spreading costs and spurring innovation by maximizing opportunities for commercial and international involvement.

While most U.S. government activities in space, and the lion’s share of the space budget, are focused on military programs, human spaceflight remains the program’s lodestone. Every president in recent memory has sought to stir the popular imagination and — hoping to channel JFK — associate himself with big, bold thinking by announcing ambitious goals for manned spaceflight. (8/11)

Mini-Fridge-Size Satellite Could Help Troops Get a Real-Time Battlefield View (Source: LA Times)
A network of tiny satellites as small as a dorm-room refrigerator could one day give military troops on the ground a real-time look at what’s lurking over the next hill. The first of these satellites, known as Kestrel Eye, will be launched Monday morning aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket loaded with NASA supplies for the International Space Station.

The real-time information could tell them whether their plans need to be adjusted — if a previously empty field is now filled with vehicles, for instance. Kestrel Eye images won’t be as high-quality as those from a larger military satellite, which can capture specific details such as faces or vehicle license plate numbers. With Kestrel Eye, troops will be able to see large vehicles like tanks or cars. But for fighters on the ground, speed can trump detail. (8/12)

SpaceX Rocket to Fire Hewlett Packard Supercomputer Into Orbit (Source: Bloomberg)
Space Exploration Technologies Corp. will carry a Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. computing system that is designed to last longer and may help pave the way for extended periods of space travel, such as the journey to Mars. SpaceX will take the system, a box that can process data from experiments, on its Dragon Spacecraft that will be launched from Cape Canaveral on Aug. 14 to the International Space Station.

Other computing systems used in space have to be replaced frequently because the difficult conditions caused them to degrade, a spokesman for Hewlett Packard said. Its Spaceborne Computer is designed to last for a year, which it says is roughly the amount of time it would take to travel to Mars. NASA aims to send humans to Mars in the 2030s. (8/11)

Genes in Space Winner in Florida to Witness Her Idea Take Off (Source: The National)
She wants to be the first Emirati in space and to plant the UAE flag on the surface of Mars. And on Monday, 15-year-old Alia Al Mansoori will get her first taste of what that involves when a Falcon 9 rockets blasts off from the world-famous Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Alia will not be on board but her work will be. The Dragon capsule on the SpaceX ship carries her winning experiment from The National’s Genes in Space competition. (8/12)

India Aims for Venus (Source: Bangalore Mirror)
India’s Venus mission, which is being planned for launch by the end of this decade, is making a slow but steady progress as a study team has submitted its inputs addressing various options and opportunities for the mission.

The study team’s inputs will be reviewed by the Advisory Committee for Space Sciences (ADCOS) for further consideration. Meanwhile, the call for scientific proposals, through an Announcement of Opportunity (AO) to conduct space-based experiments has been made to Indian scientists. "After the selection process is over, the definition of mission and its budget will be worked out,” said Jatinder Singh, Minister of State, PMO. (8/12)

Spat Over Design of New Chinese Telescope Goes Public (Source: Science)
A deep division among Chinese astronomers over the design of a proposed 12-meter telescope broke into public view this week as statements from competing camps went viral on social media.

The dispute centers on whether to adopt a technically ambitious four-mirror design proposed by optical engineers or a conventional three-mirror option favored by astronomers. The stakes are high. It will be China’s largest optical telescope and serve as the workhorse observational facility for several generations. (8/12)

Russian Scientists Developing Tech for Military Satellites to See Through Clouds (Source: Sputnik)
Russian scientists are developing technologies that will enable military satellites to see through clouds and conduct subsurface sensing. Existing technologies have a number of shortcomings, including the limitations while operating in cloudy weather, when the Earth becomes closed to observation from satellites.

"FPI supports research on radio-optical active phased antenna arrays (ROFAR), which in comparison with widely-used technology have increased performance, energy efficiency, high noise immunity, resistance to electromagnetic pulses. All this together makes ROFAR the most advanced radar of the future," Vakshtein said. (8/12)

NASA Awards Contract to RS&H for Modification of Mobile Launcher (Source: NASA)
NASA has awarded a contract to RS&H Inc. of Merritt Island, Florida, for architectural engineering and design services for the modification of the mobile launcher at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The value of this fixed price, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract is not to exceed $30 million. The performance period is five years.

RS&H will provide architectural engineering and design services necessary to modify and develop structural, mechanical and electrical systems to renovate the mobile launcher. Modifications will include facility infrastructure, ground support systems and ground support equipment. (8/11)

Russia’s Energiya Space Corporation Picked as Chief Developer of Soyuz-5 Rocket (Source: Tass)
Russia’s Energiya Rocket and Space Corpo. has been chosen as the chief developer of the new Russian Soyuz-5 medium-class rocket. The basic elements and technologies of the Soyuz-5 carrier rocket can be eventually used for developing a super-heavy launcher.

The first launch of the new Russian Soyuz-5 carrier rocket is scheduled for 2022 from the Baikonur space center. The rocket is expected to be subsequently maximally adapted for launches from the Sea Launch floating platform and then from the Vostochny spaceport in the Russian Far East. In 2024, the carrier rocket is planned to orbit a manned Federatsiya spacecraft with a crew on its board.

Editor's Note: This new Soyuz initiative seems redundant to the Angara family of rockets, which has been 'under development' for decades now. Angara was considered to be Russia's answer to the US EELV program, with modular rockets serving medium, large, and super heavy payloads. (8/12)

Science and Technology to Get Boost From CRS-12 Mission (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
The cargo aboard NASA’s scheduled Aug. 14, 2017, commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) could help more people than just the six astronauts and cosmonauts currently living there. With more than three tons of experiments and materials being ferried, SpaceX's Dragon capsule promises to benefit people ranging from those suffering from Parkinson's disease, to those seeking bio-engineered organs, to soldiers on the battlefield. (8/13)

Jacobs Engineers Battle Extraterrestrial Challenges From Houston Area (Source: Houston Chronicle)
NASA's acting chief technologist Douglas Terrier was in the Clear Lake area Thursday to learn about devices that can detect space debris, extract drinking water from urine and test the role a sock can play in reducing vibrations caused by exercise equipment aboard the International Space Station.

"The pace of technology refresh is so fast, you've got to work pretty hard to keep up," Terrier said. So he spent the afternoon touring the Jacobs Engineering Development Facility near the intersection of Bay Area and Space Center boulevards.

Jacobs partners with large businesses and more than 2,500 small business suppliers, including 750 in Texas, to provide NASA with a host of products. The company's Clear Lake Group is working on more than 100 projects at Johnson Space Center. The Engineering Development Facility allows Jacobs to quickly create prototypes and concepts for NASA. The facility is also used to develop new technologies. (8/10)

Teledyne Brown Offers ISS Platform for Testing Spacecraft Parts in Orbit Before Flying Them For Real (Source: Space News)
Teledyne Brown Engineering plans to install a hyperspectral imager built by the German Aerospace Center, DLR, in the firm’s International Space Station observatory in March. DLR’s Earth Sensing Imaging Spectrometer will be the first payload tested on the Multi-User System for Earth Sensing (MUSES), Teledyne Brown’s external Earth-facing platform that traveled to the space station in June inside a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule.

Teledyne Brown helped DLR fund the hyperspectral sensor in exchange for rights to the data. “The DLR owns all the scientific data and we own all the commercial data,” said Chris Crumbly, Teledyne Brown vice president for civil and commercial space business development. Companies seeking spaceflight heritage for new sensors or other systems can test them in MUSES “instead of putting them on a billion dollar satellite,” Crumbly said. (8/11)

Robots Are Cutting Down on the Need for Space Doctors (Source: Bloomberg)
NASA has largely computerized routine tasks such as orbital rendezvous, docking, and trajectory mapping; it’s also been developing “robonauts” since the late 1990s, including medical systems that can perform tests and procedures while controlled remotely by a doctor—-or, in some cases, handle things without any human involvement. Click here. (8/11)

Aerospace Combat Command Instead of Space Force? (Source: Breaking Defense)
Over the past two years, America’s near-peer competitors have reorganized and integrated their air, deterrent, missile defense, cyber and space forces to make them more effective. But U.S. competitors aren’t just reorganizing; they are building and fielding capabilities that create new vulnerabilities for the U.S. in space. As Gen. Jay Raymond, head of Air Force Space Command said in recent testimony: “In the not too distant future, near-peer competitors will have the ability to hold every U.S. space asset in every orbital regime at risk.”

Dissatisfied with the speed of the Air Force’s response to these challenges, House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee Chair Mike Rogers and Ranking Member Jim Cooper have proposed (and the full House has adopted) a semi-independent Space Force within the Air Force Department in the House version of the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.

In a joint statement, Chairman Rogers and Rep. Cooper say: “There is bipartisan acknowledgement that the strategic advantages we derive from our national security space systems are eroding… We are convinced that the Department of Defense is unable to take the measures necessary to address these challenges effectively and decisively, or even recognize the nature and scale of its problems.” (8/10)

Why Massive Galaxies Don’t Dance in Crowds (Source: UNSW)
Scientists have discovered why heavyweight galaxies living in a dense crowd of galaxies tend to spin more slowly than their lighter neighbors. “Contrary to earlier thinking, the spin rate of the galaxy is determined by its mass, rather than how crowded its neighborhood is,” says Professor Sarah Brough.

The finding, based on a detailed study of more than 300 galaxies, is published in The Astrophysical Journal. To measure how fast their galaxies rotated, the researchers used an instrument called the Sydney-AAO Multi-object Integral field spectrograph (SAMI) on the 4-meter Anglo-Australian Telescope in eastern Australia. SAMI ‘dissects’ galaxies, obtaining optical spectra from 61 points across the face of each galaxy, 13 galaxies at a time. (8/10)

No, Quantum Teleportation Won’t Let Us Send Instant Messages to Alpha Centauri (Source: Air & Space)
In what sounds like a “Beam me up, Scotty” moment, Chinese scientists recently teleported the first photons to orbit. But unlike the glowing transporter in Star Trek, teleportation experiments in 2017 still have to follow the laws of physics, which means that instant travel to—or even communication with—nearby stars won’t happen.

The Chinese experiment began last year, when a satellite called Micius (named after an ancient Chinese philosopher) blasted off on top of a Long March rocket. Equipped with a photon receiver, Micius passes over ground stations at the same time every day, during which times scientists can beam up a stream of photons.

“Beaming,” in this case, doesn’t mean the instantaneous transfer of photons from one location to another. Like anything else, these elementary particles can travel no faster than the speed of light. Their ability to carry information relies on a principle called quantum entanglement, which happens when tiny particles (including photons) form at the same time and place. In the weird world of quantum physics, this means the two objects share the same existence (or more technically, have the same wave function). (8/10)

Billions to Be Spent on Missile Defense, Trump Pledges (Source: Defense News)
President Donald Trump has vowed to spend billions on missile defense. "We are going to be increasing our budget by many billions of dollars because of North Korea, and other reasons having to do with the anti-missile," he told reporters in New Jersey on Thursday. (8/10)

NASA'S Smartest Satellite is Gone. Can Private Space Replace It? (Source: WIRED)
Scientists love pointing hyperspectral cameras at the Earth to analyze things like crop health, or the mineral content of exposed soil. But there aren't many spectroscopic satellites in orbit: The US decommissioned one of the best, called Hyperion, earlier this year. So a private company called Satellogic wants to give scientists its data for free—the company plans to have 300 spectroscopic satellites in orbit by the early 2020s.

Hyperspectral imagery lets scientists see the world for what it is: molecules. Every rock, every crop, every building, and every one of you is made out of them, and every molecule reflects a different brand of photons. Pick up the signals from enough different kinds of light—Satellogic's orbiting imagers use 30 kinds, with wavelengths from 450 to 850 nanometers—and you can get a pretty good idea of a landscape's molecular composition. Click here. (8/9)

Virgin Orbit Wins LauncherOne Contract for Italian Smallsat (Source: Space News)
Italian small satellite builder Sitael has signed Virgin Orbit to send a technology demonstration satellite into low-Earth orbit next year. Sitael’s ĀµHETsat, a demonstrator for a new electric propulsion system built with the European and Italian space agencies, will fly on LauncherOne “mid-next year,” Dan Hart, Virgin Orbit Chief Executive, told SpaceNews Aug. 11.

Virgin Orbit is preparing to begin commercial services with LauncherOne, its air-launched small satellite orbital vehicle, in 2018. Other customers for the launch system, which can carry 500 kilograms to LEO, include NASA, OneWeb, and Sky and Space Global. (8/11)

SpaceX and Boeing in Home Stretch for Commercial Crew Readiness (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
With just one year to go until the scheduled completion of all uncrewed and crewed test flights for SpaceX and Boeing’s commercial crew transportation services, the NASA Advisory Council recently held a routine review of the technical, hardware, software, and training progress the two companies are making toward the goal of returning the capability to launch people into space from the United States. Click here. (8/11)

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