August 7, 2017

The National Space Council Gets to Work (Source: Space Review)
With an executive secretary selected, the National Space Council will soon be in operation, but what should it be focusing on? Jeff Foust reports from a recent event where a number of past space policy officials offered their views on the council and its priorities. Click here. (8/7)
A Dim Future for the National Space Council? (Source: Space Review)
As the reconstituted National Space Council prepares to hold its first meeting, some wonder just what it can accomplish. Roger Handberg argues that fiscal constraints and the rise of military and commercial activities may limit its effectiveness. Click here. (8/7)
I’ve Died and Gone to Oshkosh (Source: Space Review)
This year’s EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, had more space-related events than usual. Eric Hedman provides an overview, from the appearance of Blue Origin and Jeff Bezos to an Apollo astronaut reunion. Click here. (8/7)

This Advanced Tech Could Power a Future Colony on Mars (Source: SyFy Wire)
When you think of Siemens, you might think of everything from generators to LED screens to one of the big-name sponsors behind PBS programming—but start thinking in terms of Martian habitats. Joining the race to Mars right behind Tesla and SpaceX mogul Elon Musk is the industrial manufacturing monolith, whose experience in generating energy could possibly power a human colony on a planet that would otherwise be perilous to our survival. Sunlight that filters through the reddish dust in what could pass for an atmosphere can be harnessed by solar panels. The same wind that obliterated most of its atmosphere can be the force behind sustaining human life. Mars may be devoid of water and oxygen, but it has no shortage of potential energy.

"Mars will be the ultimate microgrid," claims the company’s website. "With no centralized power sources, communities will one day rely on decentralized energy systems."

Siemens’ future Martian technology was inspired by something much closer to Earth. When the people of the Aboriginal Wiyot reservation north of San Francisco recently experienced glitches in power due to interferences from the Pacific Gas & Electric power grid, Siemens joined forces with them to devise a method to fuel the reservation that would be both reliable and environmentally conscious. The microgrid that was the brainchild of this thinking runs on a 500-kilowatt array of REC Solar solar panels and a Tesla battery storage system, among other instruments. Maintenance is overseen through a computerized management system that determines where power resources are best used. (8/6)

Aliens May Be More Elisive Than We Thought (Source: SyFy Wire)
Distant moons and planets were once thought to go through phases when they were overflowing with water after their young, dim stars heated up and melted their icy surfaces. However, a team of scientists who recently published a study in Nature Geoscience now believe that Earth is an anomaly when it comes to producing the liquid H2O necessary to keep life as we know it flourishing. Emphasis on life as we know it.

Theoretically, if these worlds orbit their stars at just the right distance (aka the “Goldilocks zone”), they should unfreeze into habitable worlds—but many of them never will become habitable.

Using climate models to simulate how frozen planets evolve as their stars go through phases, the team determined that even the most glacial orb would go from snowball to fireball without the atmospheric greenhouse gases found exclusively on Earth. (8/6)

NASA Looks to Revive Nuclear Rocket Development with BWXT Contract (Source: The Engineer)
Part of NASA’s Game Changing Development (GCD) Program, the $18.8m contract will see Virginia-based BWX Technology initiate the design of a reactor to power a nuclear thermal promotion (NTP) system for a future crewed mission to Mars. The project, which is expected to run through 2019 subject to Congressional approval, aims to develop a reactor fueled by low enriched uranium; that is, with a uranium-235 concentration below 20 percent.

NTP technology is seen as having great potential for long distance space exploration. It uses a nuclear reactor to heat an inert fuel — most likely to be liquid hydrogen — to high temperatures and expel it from a rocket nozzle. Theoretically, an NTP engine can deliver twice the specific impulse of the best chemical rocket engine, with half of the liftoff mass: payload mass could therefore be doubled or tripled. “That capability makes nuclear thermal propulsion ideal for delivering large, automated payloads to distant worlds,” NASA said. (8/7)

Rocket Lab Progressing to October Preparations for Second Launch (Source: Space News)
The second Electron, Peter Beck said, will be rolled out to its New Zealand launch pad in about eight weeks, or early October. “There’s still quite some preparation of the launch vehicle once it’s on the pad,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll turn it a bit quicker this time.”

That launch, like the first, will be a test flight without a commercial payload. Rocket Lab originally planned to carry out three test flights of the Electron before starting commercial missions, but Beck said that if the next launch is a complete success, the company will skip the third test flight and move into commercial missions. "Running another test flight won’t actually achieve much for us other than statistics,” he said. “Provided the second test flight goes well then we’ll accelerate directly into commercial operations.” (8/7)

China Built the World’s Largest Telescope, But Has No oOne to Run It (Source: Ars Technica)
China has built a staggeringly large instrument in the remote southern, mountainous region of the country called the Five hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST.  The telescope measures nearly twice as large as the closest comparable facility in the world, the US-operated Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico. Radio telescopes use a large, parabolic dish to collect radio waves from distant sources, such as pulsars and black holes—or even alien civilizations.

According to the South China Morning Post, the country is looking for a foreigner to run the observatory because no Chinese astronomer has the experience of running a facility of such size and complexity. The Chinese Academy of Sciences began advertising the position in western journals and job postings in May, but so far there have been no qualified applicants.

One reason is that the requirements are fairly strict: The candidate must have at least 20 years of previous experience in the field, and he or she must have taken a leading role in large-scale radio telescope project with extensive managerial experience. The candidate must also hold a professorship, or equally senior position, in a world-class research institute or university. (8/6)

Clock Ticking for Japanese Rocket Startup Interstellar (Source: Nikkei)
Although Interstellar Technologies' Momo rocket failed in its first attempt to reach space, the Japanese startup aims to have a more advanced version ready as early as the fall, trying to keep up in the race to develop the small, inexpensive launch vehicles seen as the industry's next big thing.

"It will be about three months from now, but we will develop a cheaper, more maintainable Momo," said Interstellar co-founder Takafumi Horie -- the Japanese entrepreneur best known for internet portal Livedoor -- at a news conference after the July 30 launch of the country's first rocket developed wholly by the private sector.

The test rocket -- just 10 meters tall -- flew 66 seconds before communications were lost and the engines shut off, likely because of damage to the craft. It reached an estimated height of about 20km, later splashing down off of Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido. (8/7)

Africa Has Entered the Space Race, with Ghana’s First Satellite Now Orbiting Earth (Source: Tech Crunch)
The GhanaSat-1―Ghana’s first satellite―began its orbit recently, with a little help from some friends. The cubesat, built by a Ghanaian engineering team at All Nations University, was delivered to NASA’s International Space Station in June on a SpaceX rocket that took off from pad 39a at Kennedy Space Center, a NASA spokesperson confirmed.

The GhanaSat-1 deployed into orbit from the Center in July, and is now operational, according to project manager Richard Damoah, a Ghanaian professor and assistant research scientist at NASA. “This particular satellite has two missions,” Damoah told TechCrunch. “It has cameras on board for detailed monitoring of the coastlines of Ghana. Then there’s an educational piece―we want to use it to integrate satellite technology into high school curriculum,” he said. (8/6)

DARPA and Boeing Team Up to Create "New Wave" of Space Planes (Source: Outer Places)
DARPA has contracted the Boeing Company to advance its spacecraft designs as part of its Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program. The program aims to build, launch, and fly the first hypersonic aircraft as part of a completely new wave of craft. This "new wave" would act as a national security effort, and would allow increased access to space. Those venturing out into the cosmos would be able to do so quickly and at a relatively low cost. This project hopes to allow for speedy travel into low Earth orbit, with launch prep taking mere days compared to the months and years that are typically required to get even one satellite into orbit. (8/2)

SES Will Retire Malfunctioning Satellite, If it Can Control It (Source: Space News)
SES says it plans to retire its malfunctioning AMC-9 satellite if it can regain control of it. SES said Friday that it is still working with satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space to regain control of the spacecraft, which malfunctioned in June. The company said it has yet to determine if debris spotted in the vicinity of AMC-9 originated from the satellite itself or elsewhere. AMC-9 was launched in 2003 for a planned 15-year lifetime. (8/7)

Rocket Lab Test Launch Missed Mark Due to Software Error (Source: Space News)
Rocket Lab says its first Electron launch was cut short by a telemetry glitch. The company said in a statement late Sunday that a software configuration error, made by a contractor handling ground systems for range safety, created a loss of data that required range safety officials to terminate the launch about four minutes after liftoff. Rocket Lab said that its own telemetry indicates the rocket was performing normally on that May flight up until the flight was terminated. The company plans to roll the next Electron out to the pad in about eight weeks for a second test flight. If that launch is successful, the company will move ahead into commercial operations. (8/7)

Malfunctioning Air Force Weather Satellite Expected For Total Loss Next Month (Source: Space News)
A military weather satellite is expected to stop functioning next month. The Air Force's Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) Flight 19 satellite malfunctioned in orbit in February 2016, less than two years after launch, losing the ability to be commanded by the ground. The spacecraft has been providing tactical weather data since then, but the satellite is expected to lose attitude control by late next month, depriving the spacecraft of power. The Air Force said the loss of DMSP-F19 will not have an effect on the service's strategic weather mission. (8/7)

Space Collectibles Show and Sale Next Weekend at the Cape (Source: NSCFL)
Space related memorabilia including unique and historic pins, patches, models, toys, postal covers, artwork and so much more from Space Coast collectors and entrepreneurs will be featured at a Space Collectibles Show & Sale on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.

The free event is open to the public and will take place between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. EDT at the Sands Space History Center located just outside the south gate of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at the end of State Road 401 on the north side of Port Canaveral. The U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Museum Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization, is hosting the event.

The History Center provides a venue outside the restricted area of the Air Force Station for guests to explore the history of Cape Canaveral's legendary launch pads. There is no charge for admission, making it one of the Space Coast's most affordable attractions. (8/6)

US Approves Sea Launch Acquisition by S7 Group (Source: Tass)
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) approved the deal on acquisition of Sea Launch complex by Russia’s S7 Group, a source in the rocket and space industry told TASS on Friday. "The deal approval was received this week," the source said. Sea Launch declared its bankruptcy in the summer of 2009 and after its reorganization in 2010 Russia’s Energiya Corporation gained the leading role in the project.

Space launches were suspended in 2014. In late September 2016, Russia’s S7 Group signed a contract with Sea Launch Group on the project’s acquisition. Space launches from the floating spaceport are expected to restart in 2018. A total of 10-12 launches are expected to be conducted under the project during the first five years. (8/4)

Another Japanese Team Plans Small Satellite Launcher (SourcE: Nikkei)
Canon Electronics is leading a venture that will work on developing a rocket specifically to carry small satellites into space. Canon is joining IHI Aerospace, construction company Shimizu and the government-backed Development Bank of Japan in the venture. The new company will be founded with capital of 200 million yen ($1.8 million). Canon Electronics will take a 70% stake. The three other parties will have stakes of 10%.

The business is not expected to get underway until at least the end of fiscal 2017. When it does begin operating, it will try to meet some of the surging demand to carry small satellites into space with a small, low-cost rocket. The partners plan to develop the rocket using technology from the SS-520 minirocket owned by JAXA, Japan's space agency.

An SS-520 voyage in January, the rocket's first, ended in failure. Canon Electronics says it will draw from the experience. IHI Aerospace has experience developing and launching solid-fuel rockets. Shimizu is studying how it can apply its construction technology to space development. A subsidiary has engaged in consulting work regarding space. (8/6)

Preparations Underway for Minotaur Launch at Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
Ground crews at a long-dormant launch pad at Cape Canaveral are stacking surplus military missile motors for the Aug. 25 launch of a Minotaur 4 rocket with a satellite designed to track orbital traffic thousands of miles above Earth. The lower three solid-fueled stages of the Minotaur 4 come from the Air Force’s stockpile of decommissioned Peacekeeper ICBMs.

A spokesperson for Orbital ATK, which operates the Minotaur family in agreement with the U.S. Air Force, confirmed stacking of the Minotaur 4 booster recently started at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. Liftoff is set for Aug. 25 at 11:15 p.m. EDT, the opening of a four-hour launch window.

The Minotaur 4 is typically made of four stages — the three Peacekeeper motors and an additional commercial Orion 38 solid rocket on top — to send military satellites into orbit. Minotaur 4 variants have launched payloads into orbit on three occasions from Kodiak Island, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and a shortened three-stage version has launched two times on suborbital missions. (8/4)

Race On for 'Out of This World' Resources (Source:
The race to space is on. Perhaps one might say it has been on for years now. However, space exploration, and the launching of new-generation satellites, have been much in the news recently, taking on added significance with important regulatory implications. Click here. (8/4)

No comments: