May 24, 2022

Israel's Starburst Announces ASTRA Accelerator for Next-Generation of Space Startups (Source: CTech)
Starburst Aerospace, an Israeli aerospace accelerator, which connects startups with investors and government support, announced the launch of its first cohort, termed ASTRA, which will be focused exclusively on startups who develop innovative technologies for space applications. The three startups that were selected to participate are Tehiru Technologies, CrystalEn Semiconductor, and CSpace.

The startups will begin a 7-month program, which includes technical support in building their technologies, fundraising assistance, expert mentoring, and a 13-week bootcamp to prepare for their Seed round, as well as business introductions for pilot opportunities, access to a global network of space and aerospace industry leaders, academic labs, and investors. (5/23)

Shotwell Defends Musk, Stresses Zero Tolerance for Sexual Harassment (Source: New York Times)
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell defended company CEO Elon Musk over sexual harassment charges. In a company memo, Shotwell said SpaceX has a "ZERO tolerance" policy towards sexual harassment and that every report is thoroughly investigated. She added, though, that she did not believe a published report last week that Musk harassed a flight attendant on a SpaceX corporate jet. "I have worked closely with him for 20 years and never seen nor heard anything resembling these allegations," she wrote. (5/24)

NASA Armstrong Center Chief Retiring (Source: NASA)
The director of NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center is retiring. NASA said Monday that David McBride will retire June 30 after 35 years at the agency, the last 12 as director of the center located at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Brad Flick, deputy center director, will serve as acting director after McBride's departure. NASA also announced Monday that Jimmy Kenyon, director of the Advanced Air Vehicles Program at NASA Headquarters, will serve as acting director of the Glenn Research Center after the previously announced retirement of its director, Marla Pérez-Davis, in June. (5/24)

Solar Activity Tracks with Predictions for Cycle (Source: Sky & Telescope)
The sun is following predictions for increased activity. After a minimum of activity in its 11-year cycle in 2018 through 2020, there has been a recent increase in sunspots and solar flares. Scientists said the increase in activity is tracking predictions that the sun reaching a peak in the middle of the decade. That peak will be higher than the previous cycle, which peaked in 2012 through 2014, but is still below average historically. (5/24)

UK Company Reveals Micro-Launcher Rocket (Source: Space Daily)
Orbex's Prime rocket reaching technical readiness represents a significant achievement that brings together key elements of the ground infrastructure and prototype launch vehicle for the first time and is a major step forward for the company and for the UK launch industry. The UK Space Agency supported the development of Orbex's Prime rocket with 5.5 million pounds of funding, as part of the government's plans to enable small satellite launch from UK spaceports.

With the first integration of a full scale Orbex prototype launch vehicle on a launch pad now complete, the company will enter a period of integrated testing, allowing dress rehearsals of rocket launches and the development and optimisation of launch procedures. Orbex recently revealed their first test launch platform at a new test facility in Kinloss, a few miles from the company's headquarters at Forres in Moray, Scotland. (5/24)

Space Force Completes ISR-Focused Industry Day (Source: Space News)
The US Space Force completed its inaugural industry day event last week, meeting with 35 companies in an event that focused on space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. "It was really an opportunity to have a conversation about what is available and what's out there," said John Galer of the Aerospace Industries Association. "It was also an opportunity for Space Systems Command to talk about how they're trying to do business in a different way." (5/23)

Boeing's Starliner Wraps Up Test at ISS (Source: Space News)
Boeing's CST-100 Starliner will wrap up its brief uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station this week. NASA confirmed Monday plans for the spacecraft to undock from the station Wednesday at 2:36 p.m. Eastern, landing in White Sands, New Mexico, a little more than four hours later. Astronauts will close Starliner's hatches later today ahead of the undocking. Before the launch of the spacecraft on the OFT-2 test flight, agency officials said they would set a schedule for the next test flight, which will be the first to carry astronauts, sometime this summer. NASA will also wait until then to formally assign astronauts to the mission. While two astronauts were previously assigned to that crewed flight, NASA said it will make crew assignments depending on the timing of the test flight and other missions to the station. (5/24)

President Biden Agrees to US/Japan/South Korea Space Cooperation During Summits (Source: Space News)
President Joe Biden promised to expand space cooperation with Japan and South Korea during back-to-back summits with the leaders of those nations. During a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo Monday, Biden agreed to put the first Japanese astronaut on the moon as part of the NASA-led Artemis program. In a later joint statement, the two committed to fly a Japanese astronaut to the lunar Gateway as well. Earlier, Biden met with South Korean President Yoon in Seoul, where they agreed to strengthen cooperation in all space-related sectors. That included U.S. support for South Korea's development of a satellite navigation system. (5/24)

Russia's War in Ukraine is Threatening an Outpost of Cooperation in Space (Source: NPR)
Russian President Vladimir Putin falsely claims the U.S. is working with Nazis in Ukraine, while President Biden calls Putin a "war criminal." Aboard the jointly controlled International Space Station (ISS), however, the tone is very different: American astronauts live side-by-side with Russian cosmonauts; they regularly check in with mission control centers in both countries; and supplies arrive aboard Russian and U.S. spacecraft alike.

The symbiotic relationship has endured even as things on the Earth have deteriorated: Wars, assassination attempts and allegations of political meddling have not been enough to send the space station off course. But a mix of geopolitical and technical factors are now bringing rapid change to the collaboration. In 2020, SpaceX officially began transporting NASA astronauts to the station, ending America's reliance on Russian rockets.

The end of that vital tie was big at the time, but it pales in comparison to Russia's decision to invade Ukraine. The war has strained almost every aspect of U.S. and Russian relations, and it has already ruptured another long-standing Russian collaboration with the European Space Agency, or ESA. "It would be politically very costly for Russia not to have human spaceflight," Zak says. The space program "has a huge role in Russian propaganda and Russian politics." NASA astronaut Scott Kelly says the U.S. should start thinking about how to keep the station operating without the Russians. (5/23)

Psyche Launch on Falcon Heavy Delayed from August to September (Source: Space News)
The launch of NASA's Psyche mission has slipped more than a month and a half because of a software problem. NASA confirmed Monday that Psyche, previously scheduled to launch Aug. 1 on a Falcon Heavy, has been delayed to no earlier than Sept. 20. The agency said an unspecified issue is preventing engineers from confirming the spacecraft's software is functioning as expected but provided no additional details. Psyche will travel to the metallic main-belt asteroid of the same name, thought to be the remnant of a core of a protoplanet. (5/24)

Lockheed Martin and Filecoin Foundation Plan Blockchain Interplanetary File System (Source: Space News)
Lockheed Martin is working with the Filecoin Foundation to demonstrate a blockchain network in space. The organizations announced the Interplanetary File System (IFPS) project Monday to provide better access to data in space. IFPS uses a decentralized network, such that a spacecraft would not necessarily have to contact Earth for data but instead another node in the network that is closer. Over the next several months, Lockheed Martin and Filecoin will work to identify a spacecraft platform to host an IPFS payload that will relay data to and from Earth, and other spacecraft. (5/24)

UK's Space Forge Picks Benchmark Space Systems for Propulsion (Source: Space News)
Benchmark Space Systems announced plans Tuesday to produce engines in the United Kingdom and work with U.K. space manufacturing startup Space Forge. Benchmark will provide propulsion for ForgeStar-1, Space Forge's first in-space manufacturing and return demonstration. Space Forge will serve as the anchor customer for Benchmark's first U.K. manufacturing and testing facility at the Satellite Applications Catapult at Westcott Venture Park in Aylesbury, England. Vermont-based Benchmark has seen strong demand for its thrusters, which use high-test peroxide, after demonstrating the technology last year on an undisclosed government satellite mission. (5/24)

Key Air Force, Space Force Leaders Set to Retire (Source: Air Force Magazine)
The Department of the Air Force announced the retirements of several key leaders within the Air Force and Space Force on May 23 while also unveiling more than a dozen new assignments for current or future one-star generals. Lt. Gen. Joseph T. Guastella Jr., deputy chief of staff for operations, is exiting the service after nearly 35 years and roughly 22 months in his current position. During his term, the Air Force developed a new deployment model in which Airmen will cycle through ​​four “bins,” each lasting six months for a 24-month cycle.

Patricia Mulcahy, the Space Force’s chief human capital officer, is also leaving after more than 40 years of service in the Army and as a civilian. As the Space Force’s first deputy chief of space operations for personnel, she was responsible for helping to craft the service’s first human capital plan, “The Guardian Ideal.” (5/23)

Making Space for Australian Satellites (Source: Cosmos)
Australia’s space industry is getting off the ground with a slew of rockets and satellites poised to be sent into orbit. Fleet Space Technologies has been progressively launching its networking NanoSatellites since November 2018. It currently has six of its planned constellation of 140 in low Earth orbit. The next NanoSatellite is scheduled to be launched aboard the SpaceX Transporter-5 at Cape Canaveral on May 26. Named Centauri-5, the NanoSatellite provides low-power internet-of-things connectivity between remote ground stations for regional industry and mining operations. (5/24)

Self-Cleaning Spacecraft Surfaces to Combat Microbes (Source: ESA)
Astronauts live and work in orbit along with teeming populations of microorganisms, which could present a serious threat to health – and even the structural integrity of spacecraft. To help combat such invisible stowaways, an ESA-led project is developing microbe-killing coatings suitable for use within spacecraft cabins.

The IIT team has begun work on titanium oxide, also known as ‘titania’, used for example in self-cleaning glass down here on Earth, as well as in hygienic surfaces. When titanium oxide is exposed to ultraviolet light, it breaks down water vapour in the air into ‘free oxygen radicals’, which eat away whatever is on the surface, including bacterial membranes. (5/23)

Scientist Look to Fake Space to Understand Immune System (Source: Arizona Republic)
Three humans. A tank full of brine shrimp. A teddy bear named Svetlana. These are some of the things that greeted Lauren Cornell on Oct. 1, when she set out on a 45-day journey as a fake astronaut. Cornell, a research scientist with the Air Force, joined a NASA Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) simulation in fall 2021 along with three crewmates.

While HERA is a mission to improve space travel, one of Cornell’s motivations for joining the experiment wasn’t outer space at all. It was something tiny, from Earth – and actually inside of her. HERA provides the chance to study not only space travel but the reactions of its test astronauts. It’s a place for researchers, including a team from Arizona, to examine biology, physiology and immunology in a controlled environment. And in Cornell’s mission, scientists were building on research that investigated how viruses that live dormant inside our bodies may be triggered to reemerge, based on the stresses of space travel. (5/23)

Lawsuit Blames FAA For Georgia County's Misguided Spending (Source: Spaceport Facts)
“Plaintiff(s) also questioned Spaceport Camden’s commercial viability given the potential risk to the public, cost, and operating restrictions that would be required. In the presence of his colleagues, former [FAA] Associate Administrator (General Wayne) Monteith responded that Spaceport Camden was not a commercially viable launch site and that ‘some spaceports just want to sell hats and t-shirts.’” The bottom line is Camden taxpayers have “invested” $11,000,000 for a spaceport license the FAA states cannot launch rockets in the “foreseeable future.” The Spaceport Camden license serves no purpose for the space industry. (5/23)

For Starliner, Better Late Than Never (Source: Space Review)
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner launched last week on its second uncrewed test flight to the ISS, nearly two and a half years after a truncated first mission. Jeff Foust reports on that launch and docking, and the road ahead for the commercial crew vehicle. Click here. (5/23)
 
Barnstorming the Moon: the LEM Reconnaissance Module (Source: Space Review)
During the early years of the Apollo program, NASA considered a variety of approaches to scout potential landing sites. Philip Horzempa examines one proposal that would have turned the Lunar Module into a reconnaissance satellite. Click here. (5/23)
 
How the India and France Space Strategic Dialogue Can Address Multi-Dimensional Concerns in 2020s (Source: Space Review)
Earlier this month the governments of France and India agreed to start a formal dialogue on space policy issues. Harini Madhusudan examines how this fits into the longer history of space relations between the two countries and what topics they may discuss. Click here. (5/23)

Large Asteroid to Pass Near Earth (Source: Daily Mail)
Measuring just over a half a mile (2,722ft) tall, the Burj Khalifa has been the tallest building in the world since it was built in 2004. But Dubai's enormous building pales in comparison to an asteroid that's set to pass Earth this week. The asteroid, named 7335 (1989 JA) measures a whopping 1.1 miles in diameter, and will pass by our planet on Friday. While NASA has classed the asteroid as 'potentially hazardous', it's extremely unlikely to pose a threat to our planet, passing by at a distance of about 2.5 million miles. (5/23)

Gogo Business Aviation, OneWeb Announce Satellite Broadband Offering (Source: Aviation Week)
Gogo Business Aviation plans to launch a global broadband service for business aviation connecting to the new low-Earth-orbit satellite constellation under construction by OneWeb. The new inflight broadband service will access OneWeb’s constellation using a new electronically steered antenna that Gogo has designed in conjunction with Hughes Network Systems, which is itself an investor in OneWeb. The antenna assembly will be small enough to install on business aircraft ranging from light jets and large turboprops to ultra-long-range large cabin jets. (5/22)

European Innovation Council Supports Space Debris Mitigation Project (Source: Sener)
The E.T.PACK-Fly consortium, coordinated by the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and made up of the University of Padova, the Technical University of Dresden (TU Dresden), the Spanish company SENER Aeroespacial and the German start-up Rocket Factory Augsburg (RFA), has received €2.5 million from the European Innovation Council (EIC) to develop a device based on a space tether to deorbit space debris.

Due to the high cost involved, most satellites are not removed after their mission is completed. This fact, together with spontaneous explosions in orbits as a result of the harsh space environment, has caused the accumulation of a high number of space debris in Low Earth Orbit. They represent a threat since, when a collision occurs between two objects in orbit, a cloud of dangerous shrapnels for operational satellites is generated. (5/17)

May 23, 2022

China, U.S. are Racing to Make Billions From Mining the Moon’s Minerals (Source: Seattle Times)
The inability of the U.S. and China to cooperate on space risks not only an arms race, but also clashes over extracting potentially hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of resources on the moon and elsewhere. “Our concern in the West is more about who sets the rules of the road, particularly access to resources,” said Malcolm Davis. At the center of the dispute is the U.S.-drafted Artemis Accords, a nonlegally binding set of principles to govern activity on the moon, Mars and beyond.

The initiative, which NASA says is grounded in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, forms the foundation of the space agency’s effort to put astronauts on the moon this decade and kick-start mining operations of lucrative lunar elements. China and Russia have led opposition to the accords, vowing greater space cooperation in early February as part of a “no limits” partnership when Putin visited President Xi Jinping in Beijing shortly before the war began. They are jointly promoting an alternative project on the moon they say is open to all other countries.

Beijing wants any rule-making to be settled at the U.N., where it can count on support from a wider group of countries eager for friendly ties with the world’s second-biggest economy. “It’s time the U.S. woke up and smelled the coffee,” the official China Daily proclaimed. China has good reason to be suspicious of U.S. efforts in space. American legislation first passed in 2011 prevents NASA from most interactions with its Chinese counterpart, and the U.S. has blocked China from taking part in the International Space Station. (5/21)

Starliner Could Keep ULA Atlas Flying Beyond Vulcan (Source: Space News)
Future Starliner missions will continue to launch on Atlas 5 rockets even as United Launch Alliance moves to retire the vehicle. NASA and ULA officials said last week that Boeing's contract for launches of the spacecraft cover all six operational, or post-certification, missions after a crewed test flight scheduled for as soon as late this year. With an anticipated flight rate of just one Starliner per year, that contract would mean Atlas 5 would need to operate well into the latter half of the 2020s. ULA said it has plans in place to ensure Atlas 5 operations as long as needed for Starliner, even as it transitions to the Vulcan Centaur. (5/23)

SpaceX Private Placement of Stock Seeks to Raise $1.7 Billion (Source: CNBC)
SpaceX seeks to raise $1.7 billion in a new round at a higher valuation. The private placement would value the company at $127 billion, up from $100 billion last fall. The new funding round is in addition to a secondary sale of stock by company employees and other existing shareholders recently announced. (5/23)

China Launches Three Commsats on Long March 2C Rocket (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
China launched three communications satellites into low Earth orbit Friday. A Long March 2C rocket lifted off at 6:30 a.m. Eastern Friday from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center and placed three spacecraft into orbit. Two of the satellites were built by Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co. Ltd., which previously has focused on remote sensing satellites. A third, described as a technology demonstration satellite, was built by the China Academy of Space Technology. (5/23)

Industry Groups Urge Congress to Reauthorize NASA (Source: Space News)
Industry groups are calling on Congress to pass a NASA authorization bill. A letter last week by a dozen organizations said that it was time for Congress to pass a new authorization to reflect changes at the agency since the last bill was enacted in 2017. The letter did not take a position on what should be included in the bill or how it should be passed. A House-Senate conference committee started work earlier this month on hammering out differences between competitiveness bills they separately passed, with the Senate version, but not the House one, including a NASA authorization. (5/23)

Space Force Plans for Involvement in Different Theater Commands (Source: Breaking Defense)
The Space Force is working on getting components of the service included in various theater commands. An initial priority for the Space Force is to include a component in Indo-Pacific Command because of the "pacing threat" posed by China, said Space Force Lt. Gen. Chance Saltzman last week. Those plans, he said, require approval from the secretary of defense, which remains pending. Space Force personnel deployed in various theaters are assigned to Air Force components for the time being. (5/23)

Eutelsat Reports Third Quarter and Nine-month Revenues of €285 Million (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Eutelsat Communications reports revenues for the Third Quarter and Nine Months ended 31 March 2022. Eva Berneke, Chief Executive Officer of Eutelsat Communications, said: “The Third Quarter saw robust delivery, with an improvement in Broadcast trend and strong double-digit growth in both Fixed Broadband and Mobile Connectivity whereas Government Services inevitably reflected the geopolitical environment in the Middle East.  (5/22)

US and Japan Aim for Lunar Landing (Source: Space Daily)
Japan and the United States said Monday they want to put the first Japanese astronaut on the Moon as the allies deepen cooperation on space projects. No non-American has ever touched down on the lunar surface, and Japan has previously said it hopes to achieve a Moon landing by the end of this decade. President Joe Biden, after his first face-to-face meeting with Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, said the nations will work together in the US-led Artemis programme to send humans to the Moon, and later to Mars. Biden said he was "excited" about the collaboration, including on the Gateway facility, which will orbit the Moon and provide support for future missions. (5/23)

SpaceX Dragon Hypergolic Leak Risked Crew, NASA Investigation Underway (Source: Space Explored)
SpaceX’s Dragon capsule has been very successful since its first crewed launch on Demo-2. While reuse is paramount to SpaceX’s mission, the Dragon capsule heat shield has started to cause issues once again that could put astronauts at risk. SpaceX’s Dragon capsule hasn’t been totally free of issues up to this point, but the issues have been comparably minor.

SpaceX made NASA aware of the issues with Axiom’s Crew Dragon heat shield, which has led to an NESC inquiry taking place in relation to the excessive wear. Last year, it became known that SpaceX was planning to reuse its thermal protection system for Dragon between launches – both the backshell and the primary heat shield. Heat shield reuse requires in-depth inspection, though the possibilities with inspection are limited, and the number of times an ablative heat shield can be reused is limited.

The most serious issue affected the spacecraft during its return to Earth. Hypergolic propellant made its way into the Crew Dragon Endeavour’s heat shield, according to sources at SpaceX and NASA. While SpaceX would like to reuse the thermal protection system, the safety of astronauts must always be a top priority. If that means spending the extra expense and time between missions to replace the entire heat shield rather than relying on a potentially sub-par inspection, it is always worth it. (5/23)

The Space Industry is on its Way to Reach $1 Trillion in Revenue by 2040, Citi Says (Source: CNBC)
Citi expects the space industry to reach $1 trillion in annual revenue by 2040, with launch costs dropping 95% to unlock more services from orbit. The global space economy’s value reached $424 billion in 2020, having expanded 70% since 2010. Despite the optimistic outlook on the space economy’s future, Citi emphasized that much about the industry remains speculative, “such as space-based solar power, moon/asteroid mining, space logistics/cargo, space tourism, intercity rocket travel, and microgravity R&D and construction.”

“Revenue from manufacturing, launch services and ground equipment will make up the majority of the revenue growth in the satellite sector,” Citi said. “However, the fastest growth rate is expected to come from new space applications and industries, with revenue forecast to rise from zero to $101 billion over the period.” (5/21)

How NASA’s DAVINCI Probe will Withstand the Hellish Conditions of Venus (Source: Digital Trends)
When it is dropped into the atmosphere, DAVINCI will be in a race against time to gather all the information it needs before the heat and pressure destroy its components. To keep the probe active for as long as possible, it is spherical and covered in a thick titanium shell to withstand the pressure and insulate against the heat. Then there’s more insulation inside this shell, made of special materials including astroquartz, a type of fiber made from fused quartz.

The interior is designed to keep components thermally isolated from the exterior as well, to prevent heat from being transferred from the shell. It’s then filled with carbon dioxide gas to protect the high-voltage electronics from sparking and to stop any Earth gases from leaking in during launch. Overall, the probe, which the team calls the descent sphere, is about one meter across. It will be released from an orbiter with a parachute to slow its descent, though the atmosphere helps with this because it’s so thick that it’s more like dropping the probe through water than through air.

The descent sphere will be falling through the atmosphere and sampling all the way down, to build up a picture of the atmosphere from the top to the bottom. Inside the sphere will be instruments like spectrometers, similar to the instruments on the Mars rovers Curiosity and Perseverance, which can measure the chemical composition of samples by looking at the wavelengths of light that they absorb. But unlike the Mars rovers, which can take hours or days to collect and carefully analyze a sample, DAVINCI will have to do its sampling and analysis in a matter of minutes. (5/22)

May 22, 2022

3D Printed Satellite Antennas Can Be Made in Space with Help of Sunlight (Source: Space.com)
Satellite antennas can be 3D-printed in space with the help of sunlight, using a new patented technique that promises to do away with clunky satellite parts that take up too much space in a rocket. The new method, developed by Japanese technology company Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, uses a special type of resin that turns into a rigid solid material when exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun that is present in space.

The company has so far only demonstrated how the technology works in simulated space-like conditions in a test chamber. Mitsubishi researchers printed an antenna dish 6.5 inches (16,5 centimeters) wide that performed in tests just as well as a conventional satellite antenna. The sensitivity of antennas is directly related to their size; the larger the antenna, the better it detects and transmits its signal. But the size is a problem when launching to orbit, as a large antenna takes up a great deal of space in a rocket fairing. (5/21)

Isakowitz: A Pledge To Create A More Diverse Space Industry (Source: Aviation Week)
While the industry has long talked about cultivating a more diverse and inclusive workforce, the numbers show that we have failed. The facts are blunt: Not enough women or people from underrepresented groups are graduating from the nation’s top engineering programs. They are more susceptible to falling out of the talent pipeline in grades K-12, when more than 5 million students annually lack quality access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) opportunities.

We cannot afford to let innovation suffer by missing out on the potential of large segments of our population. To bolster their representation in the workforce, The Aerospace Corp. joined 25 other space companies in announcing a Space Workforce 2030 pledge at this year’s Space Symposium, and today that list continues to grow. This pledge includes a commitment to sponsor K-12 STEM programs, to increase significantly the number of women and employees from underrepresented groups in the industry’s collective technical workforce and within its senior leadership and to bring the percentage of these populations graduating with aerospace engineering degrees in line with overall engineering graduation rates. (5/17)

US, UK and EU Blame Russia for ‘Unacceptable’ Viasat Cyberattack (Source: Tech Crunch)
The U.S., U.K. and EU have formally blamed the Russian government for the February cyberattack against satellite communications provider Viasat, which triggered outages across central and eastern Europe hours before Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine. While the primary target of the attack is believed to have been the Ukrainian military, which relies heavily on satellite communications, the February 24 attack also impacted internet service for thousands of Viasat customers in Ukraine and tens of thousands of customers across Europe.

The attack also disconnected remote access to about 5,800 wind turbines across Germany as they relied on Viasat routers for remote monitoring and control. The attack on Viasat’s network has not yet been fully resolved months later. Viasat says the cyberattack also damaged tens of thousands of terminals that cannot be repaired and said in its most recent analysis of the incident that it had so far shipped almost 30,000 routers to customers in an effort to bring them back online.

“This unacceptable cyberattack is yet another example of Russia’s continued pattern of irresponsible behavior in cyberspace, which also formed an integral part of its illegal and unjustified invasion of Ukraine,” the EU continued, adding that the bloc is “considering further steps to prevent, discourage, deter and respond to such malicious behavior.” (5/10)

NASA Plans Early June Rollout of SLS for Next SLS Countdown Test (Source: Space News)
NASA is gearing up to perform another practice countdown of the Space Launch System in mid-June as it completes repairs to the vehicle from previous tests. NASA said May 20 it expects to roll out the SLS from the Vehicle Assembly Building at the KSC to Launch Complex 39B in early June for the next attempt at a wet dress rehearsal (WDR), where the vehicle is filled with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellants and goes through a countdown that stops just before ignition of the core stage’s four RS-25 engines.

NASA made three attempts at completing a WDR at the pad in April, but stopped all three early after a series of problems. The agency rolled the SLS back to the VAB April 26 to fix both issues with the vehicle and its ground systems as well as with the supply of nitrogen gas at the pad. (5/21)

How Scientists Find the Big Asteroids That Can Threaten Earth (Source: Mashable)
When you're fast asleep at night, telescopes atop lofty mountains continually sleuth out unknown space rocks that might fly close to Earth, or even potentially hit us. Congress directs NASA to find and track the asteroids and comets that swoop into our cosmic neighborhood, meaning some 30 million miles from Earth's orbit around the sun. Thousands of sizable ones are thought to remain undiscovered.

Specialized telescopes in Hawaii, Arizona, and beyond have spotted around 95 percent of the behemoths one kilometer wide or larger that would trigger planetary devastation. Yet astronomers have only found 40 percent of the rocks 140 meters or bigger. These are still relatively large, menacing objects. Crucially, even a smaller asteroid could destroy a place like Kansas City, home to half a million people. So the surveys for rocks large and "small" are vital.

If it turns out a rock larger than 10 meters wide has greater than a one percent chance of hitting Earth, NASA will give an official warning to the White House and other government leaders, who will then assess the situation and inform the public about any potential strike (hopefully it misses Earth or drops into the expansive oceans). NASA, however, has still never issued such a warning. Click here. (5/21)

Musk Visits Brazil's Bolsonaro to Discuss Amazon Rainforest Plans (Source: VOA)
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk met with Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday to discuss connectivity and other projects in the Amazon rainforest. The meeting was organized by Communications Minister Fabio Faria, who has said he is seeking partnerships with the world's richest man to bring or improve internet in schools and health facilities in rural areas using technology developed by SpaceX and Starlink, and also to preserve the rainforest. (5/20)

Space Tourism: Kennedy Space Center Sets Date for New Gateway Attraction (Source: MyNews13)
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s new attraction on space exploration will officially open to the public next month. "​​Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex" will debut June 15. The attraction, which was initially expected to open in the spring, will feature exhibits and interactive displays that give visitors a chance to learn about present and future space travel efforts. (5/20)

Four Groups Sue FAA Over Georgia Spaceport License (Source: Law Street)
The National Parks Conservation Association, One Hundred Miles, Little Cumberland Island Hoes Inc., and Caretta Foundation Inc. filed a complaint against the FAA, Daniel Murray, and James Repcheck alleging the defendants are in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), FAA regulation Part 420, section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act, Cumberland Island National Seashore Enabling Legislation, and the National Historic Preservation Act.

The complaint alleges that the FAA issued a launch site operator license for Spaceport Camden, a proposed commercial spaceport that would launch rockets directly over populated areas and a national seashore. The FAA’s issuance of this license is contrary to the agency’s regulations for licensing launch sites, per the plaintiffs.

According to the complaint, the agency failed to evaluate the project as required by the NEPA; when the county changed the nature of the project to accommodate smaller rockets, said to be more more failure-prone, the FAA failed to update its review. The complaint also alleges that Camden County falsified a non-existent rocket for its review revision so that its proposed project could meet FAA agency regulations. (5/20)

India to Skips GSLV to Launch GSAT-24 on Ariane 5 (Source: IBT)
India has decided to use European space agency Arianespace to launch GSAT-24 instead of ISRO's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle -Mk III (GSLV-Mk III) which is a four ton payload rocket. Arianespace will put it into space orbit on June 22 using its Ariane 5 rocket. (5/21)

Uncrewed Boeing Starliner Capsule Links Up with Space Station After ‘Excruciating’ Wait (Source: GeekWire)
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner space taxi docked with the ISS for the first time during an uncrewed flight test, marking one more big step toward being cleared to carry astronauts to orbit. But it wasn’t easy. “The last few hours have been excruciating,” Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator for space operations, acknowledged.

Despite a few glitches, Lueders and other leaders of the NASA and Boeing teams said they were generally pleased with Starliner’s performance, beginning with Thursday’s launch from Florida and continuing with today’s hours-long series of orbital maneuvers.

The docking was originally scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET, but a snag involving components of the docking system delayed the hookup for more than an hour. Starliner had to be commanded to retract its docking ring, reset the system and try again. (5/20)

Wildfire Monitoring, Other State Missions in Jeopardy Without a Space Guard (Source: Air Force Times)
Longtime military space officers in the National Guard warned Thursday that their home states will lose the ability to surveil wildfires, monitor public demonstrations and conduct other missions if the U.S. does not create a Guard component under the new Space Force.

More than 1,000 airmen are in limbo between an Air Force that has largely ceded space operations to the Space Force, and a Space Force that isn’t authorized to manage Air Guard personnel. They believe slow-walking a new Space National Guard is causing problems that could spell the end of satellite and radar-support missions in seven U.S. states and Guam.

When Congress created the Space Force in 2019, it allowed for active duty troops but wanted more time to consider the Pentagon’s suggestions for space reserve components. The government is considering setting up a less-traditional, full-time and part-time workforce that would absorb space-centered units that are still in the Air National Guard and Air Reserve. (5/20)

May 21, 2022

Embry-Riddle Aospace Engineering Ph.D. Program Gets $840,000 Boost From U.S. Department of Education (Source: ERAU)
Fourteen Aerospace Engineering doctoral students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University were recently supported with funds from an $840,000 GAANN (Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need) grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Education. One beneficiary of the grant, Ph.D. student Kaela Barrett, who is currently using 3D printing to design and optimize structural performance, has been using the flexibility afforded by the grant to explore the various niches within engineering. (5/12)

Space Force ‘Reverse Industry Day’ to Address Gaps in Sensing, Tracking (Source: C4ISRnet)
U.S. Space Force acquisition officials are meeting with companies to discuss capabilities that could help the service track ground targets with space sensors. The service, in coordination with the Air Force, has been studying options for future space-based tactical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities over the last year and expects to complete a year-long review this spring. As part of that work, the service is meeting with industry to better understand what sensors and data analysis tools are available in the market. (5/19)

Why Have Aliens Never Visited Earth? Scientists Have a Disturbing Answer (Source: Space.com)
Why has humanity never been visited by aliens (that we know of)? The question has confounded scientists for decades, but two researchers have come up with a possible — and disturbing — explanation: Advanced civilizations could be doomed to either stagnate or die before they get the chance.

The new hypothesis suggests that, as space-faring civilizations grow in scale and technological development, they eventually reach a crisis point where innovation no longer keeps up with the demand for energy. What comes next is collapse. The only alternative path is to reject a model of "unyielding growth" in favor of maintaining equilibrium, but at the cost of a civilization's ability to expand across the stars, the researchers said.

The argument attempts to find a resolution to the Fermi Paradox, which draws attention to the contradiction between the immense scope and age of the universe — two things that suggest the universe should be teeming with advanced alien life — and the lack of evidence that extraterrestrials exist anywhere in sight. "Civilizations either collapse from burnout or redirect themselves to prioritizing homeostasis, a state where cosmic expansion is no longer a goal, making them difficult to detect remotely," the researchers suggest. (5/20)

Boeing's Starliner Playing Catch-Up with SpaceX's Crew Dragon (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Starliner had been on pace with SpaceX before the 2019 setback, a malfunction NASA referred to as a “high visibility close call” that led to a post-launch review calling for 80 changes to the program. After nearly 18 months of fixes, Boeing was back last August for a retry. But that attempt was foiled when moisture caused corrosion on several valves, and Starliner was delayed another nine months.

Now, with new hardware in place and issues resolved, the spacecraft can finally finish the job, which is being done at no cost to NASA since it’s a reflight. If all goes as planned, the Starliner will dock with the ISS on Friday at 7:10 p.m. and could return to Earth as early as May 25.

Starliner’s next flight, this time with passengers, could come later this year. Previously, NASA astronauts Barry Wilmore and Michael Fincke had been assigned, but final crew assignments for the Crew Flight Test (CFT) will be coming later this summer, NASA officials said. (5/20)

Boeing's Starliner Encounters Propulsion Problems on Way to ISS (Sources: Space.com, Space Daily)
During the spacecraft’s orbital insertion burn, which occurred 31 minutes after liftoff, two of Starliner’s thrusters didn’t fire as expected. The first failed after only one second. Its backup immediately kicked on and was able to fire for another 25 seconds before it also failed. Redundancy failsafes activated a tertiary backup for the thruster group, and Starliner was able to complete the crucial burn without incident.

The Boeing spacecraft is outfitted with four of these thruster groups on its aft section, which each contain three Aerojet orbital maneuvering and attitude control (OMAC) thrusters used to perform significant maneuver burns like those that achieve orbital insertion. The two OMAC thrusters that malfunctioned, and the third that stepped in to compensate, were all in the same group on Starliner’s aft section, Boeing representatives said.

"We'll just have to go through a little bit more troubleshooting and see if we can figure out why those two thrusters didn't complete that orbit insertion burn," said Boeing's Steve Stitch. The mission's success is key to repairing Boeing's frayed reputation after the first bid, back in 2019, failed to dock with the ISS due to software bugs -- one that led to it burning too much fuel to reach its destination, and another that could have destroyed the vehicle during re-entry. (5/20)

DARPA Funds Formation-Flying PredaSAR Sats for Data Algorithm Testing (Source: Space Daily)
Terran Orbital Corp. has announced that its subsidiary, PredaSAR, received a contract award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to research synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite formation flying concepts and joint data collection techniques. The potential prototype will provide data products from at least two SAR satellites flying in formation and demonstrate novel data processing algorithms. (5/19)

Recommendation Algorithms That Power Amazon, Netflix Can Improve Satellite Imagery (Source: Space Daily)
Algorithms that help consumers decide what to stream or buy online can do more than predict customers' habits: They can help satellites see the Earth better, according to a Rutgers study.

Optical satellites lose sight of the Earth's surface when it is covered by clouds, and researchers have long relied on inaccurate tools to fill the blind spots, particularly along coastlines. By adapting a recommendation algorithm first built for Netflix, Ruo-Qian Wang created a system that is more accurate and faster at predicting cloud-covered landscapes in coastal areas than conventional data-filling tools. (5/12)

Military Commands Misspent $19M In COVID Relief, OIG Says (Source: Law360)
Two military commands spent more than $19 million in COVID-19 relief funds on space-related data analytics and cloud environment software that couldn't be connected to their pandemic response efforts, the Pentagon's inspector general reported on Thursday. The money was part of a $66 million supplement, provided through the CARES Act, to help the North American Aerospace Defense Command and US Northern Command shore up their pandemic response. (5/19)

May 20, 2022

Tuberville: Colorado A ‘Sore Loser’ in Space Command’s Huntsville Move (Source: AL.com)
U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama said in a statement Thursday that Colorado politicians are suffering from “sore loser syndrome” over evaluations that have made Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal the “preferred” choice to be the permanent home of U.S. Space Command headquarters.

Tuberville called on leaders to “embrace” the Air Force’s decision and that energy moving forward should focus on the relocation of Space Command from its startup home in Colorado Springs. “At this point, the biggest thing standing in the way of SPACECOM is political inertia and sore loser syndrome, each a detriment to U.S. military effectiveness,” Tuberville said. (5/19)

New Space Force Service Component Targets China Threat (Source: National Defense)
In response to China’s growing military capabilities, the U.S. Space Force will stand up its first service component outside of Space Command in Indo-Pacific Command, said a service official May 19. Though making the service components official is still “pre-decisional,” China’s pacing threat necessitated the first service component in the Indo-Pacific region, said Lt. Gen. Chance Saltzman, deputy chief for operations, nuclear and cyber. (5/19)

Boeing and ULA Launch Starliner to ISS From Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: Space News)
Boeing's CST-100 Starliner is on its way to the International Space Station after a launch Thursday evening. An Atlas 5 lifted off at 6:54 p.m. Eastern, carrying Starliner on the OFT-2 uncrewed test flight. At a postlaunch briefing, NASA and Boeing said the spacecraft was performing well despite suffering the failure of 2 of 12 thrusters during the spacecraft's orbital insertion burn a half-hour after liftoff.

Engineers are investigating the failure, but officials said they don't expect it to affect the spacecraft's approach to the station. Starliner is projected to dock with the station around 7:10 p.m. Eastern today, remaining there for several days of tests before returning to Earth. (5/20)

Space Force Focuses on Satellite Cybersecurity (Source: Space News)
The Space Force is emphasizing the need to protect satellite ground systems from cyberattacks. Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, deputy chief of space operations for nuclear and cyber, said Thursday that Russia's invasion of Ukraine demonstrated that cyber threats to space systems are not limited to satellites themselves, noting the attack on Viasat's KA-SAT network that targeted user terminals, not the satellite. Saltzman said more time would be needed to evaluate the events in Ukraine as the conflict grinds on. (5/20)

China's Orienspace Raises $60 Million for Launch Vehicle Development (Source: Space News)
Chinese launch vehicle developer Orienspace has raised $59.9 million in a Series A funding round. The company says the funding will support work on its Gravity-1 medium-class launch vehicle, slated for a test flight as soon as mid-2023. With a payload capacity of up to 6,500 kilograms, it would be the largest-capacity launcher in China's nascent commercial space sector. The company will also use the funding to work on a reusable engine capable of producing 100 tons of thrust for its future Gravity-2 rocket. (5/20)

Telesat Demonstrates Connectivity for Lightspeed Constellation (Source: Space News)
Telesat demonstrated high-speed connectivity in India last month using a four-year-old prototype satellite. The Phase 1 satellite, launched in 2018 to assist in development of Telesat's Lightspeed constellation, carried out tests with an Indian teleport operated by Nelco in late April, demonstrating "fiber-like" connectivity. Telesat announced plans to partner with Nelco in September 2020. Other satellite operators have since made similar alliances with other Indian companies as the country looks to ease protectionist measures to encourage foreign investments. (5/20)

Inmarsat Tests Mesh Network for Maritime Vessels (Source: Space News)
Inmarsat successfully tested a mesh network that enables ships to switch from satellite to terrestrial connectivity by using other vessels as stepping stones to land-based signal towers. The company plans to use the technology to offload its satellite capacity to terrestrial networks at ports and other congested areas, even if a ship is not close enough to connect directly to the shore.

The maritime mesh network is part of the multi-orbit Orchestra constellation strategy that Inmarsat announced last year, which includes using low Earth orbit satellites starting in 2026 for addressing areas of high bandwidth demand that can't be offloaded terrestrially. (5/20)

NASA Seeks Ideas for Exploration Strategy (Source: Space News)
NASA is seeking public input on a set of objectives that will guide its long-term exploration strategy. The agency released this week 50 objectives grouped in four areas: transportation and habitation, lunar and Martian infrastructure, operations and science. NASA is seeking comments on those objectives through the end of the month and plans two stakeholder meetings this summer to discuss the feedback. The objectives are intended to guide long-term plans for human missions to the moon and Mars, including a "gap analysis" to compare those objectives with existing and planned programs. (5/20)

SpaceX Paid Off Flight Attendant for Musk Sexual Harassment (Source: Insider)
SpaceX paid $250,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim against Elon Musk. A person who worked as a flight attendant on a SpaceX corporate jet alleged that Musk harassed her in 2016. After the person filed a complaint about the incident with SpaceX's human resources department in 2018, the company paid her $250,000 in a severance package that included a nondisclosure agreement and promise not to sue. Musk, who did not originally respond to the story before publication, called the accusations "utterly untrue" in a series of tweets overnight, alleging they were politically motivated. (5/20)

Russia Launches Reconnaissance Satellite (Sources: NasaSpaceFlight.com, TASS)
Russia launched a reconnaissance satellite Thursday. A Soyuz-2.1a rocket lifted off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome at 4:03 a.m. Eastern and placed the Bars-M reconnaissance satellite, designated Cosmos 2556, into a sun-synchronous orbit. Russian media, meanwhile, acknowledged that Cosmos 2555, a military satellite launched on an Angara 1.2 rocket April 29, reentered this week. The spacecraft suffered some kind of technical malfunction that kept it from raising its orbit. (5/20)

Russia Calculating Sanctions in Decision for ISS Crew Swaps (Source: TASS)
Russia now expects to make a decision on ISS crew swaps next month. Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos, said Thursday he expects a Russian government decision on swapping Soyuz and commercial crew seats to be made in the first 10 days of June. He said the decision will depend in part on "NASA's position on sanctions against Russia" but did not elaborate. NASA officials reiterated this week that they need to finalize by late June the crew assignments for the Crew-5 Crew Dragon mission to the ISS launching in September. (5/20)

Space Perspective Raises $17 Million to Accelerate Florida Balloon Tourism Plans (Source: Space News)
Stratospheric ballooning company Space Perspective has raised an additional $17 million. The funding from a new group of investors will allow the company to accelerate its growth, it announced Thursday. The company is developing Spaceship Neptune, a vehicle carrying eight passengers that will go up to an altitude of 30 kilometers, providing views of the Earth like those from space for several hours. Commercial flights are scheduled to begin in late 2024. (5/20)

India Plans Abort Tests for Crewed Capsule System (Source: Indian Express)
India's space agency is preparing for two abort tests of its Gaganyaan crewed spaceflight this year. The head of ISRO, S. Somanath, said one test in September will demonstrate the capsule's abort system from an altitude of 15 kilometers, while a second test in December will be conducted at a higher altitude. The Gaganyaan program originally had a goal of flying Indian astronauts this year to mark the 75th anniversary of India's independence, but it has been delayed at least in part because of the pandemic. (5/20)

China's Mars Rover Ready to Hibernate (Source: Xinhua)
China's Zhurong Mars rover is going into hibernation for the Martian winter. The China National Space Administration said that dust storms are decreasing the amount of sunlight reaching the solar-powered rover. Spacecraft controllers put the rover into a dormant mode on Wednesday and don't plan to revive it until December, when they expect conditions to improve. (5/20)

Impulse Space Propulsion Raises $20M to Bring Last-Mile Delivery to Space (Source: LA TechWatch)
Impulse Space Propulsion is focused on in-space transportation services for the inner solar system to complement the ever-increasing number of launches.  While costs per payload have significantly decreased, by extending “last-mile” capabilities, orbital missions can be grouped together resulting in more efficiency and accessibility – essentially building a hub-spoke model for space.  The company is initially focused on Low Orbit Earth to handle a wide array of uses beyond launch like payload delivery, servicing, deorbiting, and space station realignment.

Tom Mueller is the founder of the Company and he has always been interested in in-space transport as well as from Earth.  His work on space vehicle designs after leaving SpaceX led to the creation of Impulse Space Propulsion. Offering a competitive, efficient and effective solution to deliver payloads to their destinations is the goal of the Company.  With existing launch vehicles needing partners and future launch vehicles further reducing the cost to orbit, there will be more missions to deliver space capability.  As such, providing a price competitive solution is going to be key. (5/20)

Printed Rocket May Launch June 1 From Florida (Source: Long Beach Business Journal)
While many rocket manufacturers use 3D-printing technology to create components for spacecraft, the first entirely printed rocket may take flight as early as June 1. That was announced by Long Beach, CA-based Relativity Space. The company successfully completed a 60-second full-duration mission duty cycle test for stage two of its rocket, the Terran 1, at Stennis Space Center in April.

The test marks the first time a 3D-printed stage has undergone acceptance testing. Relativity also completed acceptance testing for all nine Aeon 1 engines for stage one of the rocket. The company completed its first full-duration mission duty cycle of the Aeon, which ran for 310 seconds, in January. Both stages will now be shipped to Relativity’s launch pad, LC-16, at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. (5/18)

Pollution From SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic's Rockets May Harm Human Health, Climate (Source: Business Insider)
The pollution from rockets built by SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic could damage human health and hurt the Earth's climate, a new study shows. "Atmospheric pollution from rockets," published on Tuesday in the journal Physics of Fluids, digitally modelled the exhaust gases coming from a standard rocket, similar to one of SpaceX's reusable Falcon 9s, at various altitudes.

The increase in rocket launches by commercial space companies such as Elon Musk's SpaceX, Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, and Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic "could have a significant cumulative effect on climate," the study said. This is because of the amount of carbon gases and nitrogen oxides being produced with each launch. The study found that the concentration of nitrogen oxides, which an ascending rocket releases into two cubic kilometers of atmospheric air, was considered "hazardous to human health" under the World Health Organization's (WHO) standards. (5/19)

NASA Pushing Prize Competitions with New Awards (Source: Washington Technology)
A couple of winners already made their announcements, but NASA has now released the full slate of 13 companies that have joined its Open Innovation Services 2 vehicle through an on-ramp process. NASA uses that vehicle to run challenges, where companies are tasked with solving some of the agency's hardest technical problems. On top of adding that group of 13, NASA also raised the vehicle’s ceiling from $24.9 million to $175 million. (5/19)

Don’t Be Dazzled by Russia’s Laser Weapons Claims (Source: Breaking Defense)
Claims by a top Russian official that Moscow has unveiled a powerful new laser weapon prototype to attack drones and satellites being used in Ukraine should be taken with a boulder of salt, experts say. “As with some many things that comes from the Russians, it’s hard to separate fact from fiction,” said Mark Lewis, head of the National Defense Industrial Agency’s Emerging Technologies Institute.

Laura Grego, an astrophysicist at MIT with expertise in directed-energy, summed up: “There’s not a lot of detail, but from what there is, there’s no need to hyperventilate.” Speculation about the new weapon began on Wednesday after statements to Russian state television by Yury Borisov, Russia’s deputy prime minister in charge of military development, claimed that a prototype of a drone-killing laser weapon had already been tested and is being used in Ukraine. (5/19)

Pentagon Has Quietly Growing Doubts About Boeing's Direction (Source: The Air Current)
The Pentagon has a significant stake in the company's long-term health as Boeing's single biggest customer. The Pentagon's top leaders, including the Secretary of the Air Force, recently sought internal and third-party analyses and recommendations on the future of the company.

Boeing's top leadership has sought to allay concerns about the company's performance and direction, as it concentrates resources on solving certification, design and manufacturing challenges across its business. "We're on the verge of turning the corner," said chief financial officer Brian West last week. Yet the scene now unfolding at Boeing in May 2022 has distinct echoes of an earlier run-up to leadership changes at Boeing in the fall of 2019. (5/18)

May 19, 2022

Starliner a Case Study in Fixed-Price Contracting (Source: Quartz)
Depending on how much profit margin it built into its bids, it seems likely that Boeing is losing money on Starliner. That might not change soon. SpaceX is selling trips on its Dragon to private citizens and companies, but Starliner will have a hard time doing the same: It is designed to fly on ULA’s Atlas V rocket, and eight have been reserved for the job—two for the remaining test flights, and six to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station during normal service.

There are no more Atlas V rockets left to assign to new missions. To fly paying customers (or if something goes wrong in the final test flights), ULA would need to upgrade its new rocket, Vulcan, to safely carry passengers, or Boeing would need to figure out how to launch Starliner on a competitor’s rocket. All that is a lot of risk for Boeing—indeed, risk that NASA intentionally shifted to the company as part of the procurement process. The commercial crew program is a fixed-price contract that incentivizes companies to be as efficient as possible. But while it’s good to see someone other than taxpayers on the hook for mismanagement and mistakes, Boeing’s struggles are both a justification for, and a threat to, the future of this model.

Let’s hope that Boeing executives think they can do a better job on their next fixed-price assignment, or at least feel NASA’s generous payments for building the Space Launch System make up some of the Starliner loss. The US space agency (and its space industry) need a competitor for SpaceX, and thus far none of the obvious contenders have stepped up to the plate. Boeing has the capital and the experience, but today it needs to prove it can execute. (5/19)

Space Logistics Markets Ready to Grow as On-Orbit Supplier Services Materialize (Source: Euroconsult)
A nascent but growing set of on-orbit space services, to be articulated as a space logistic ecosystem from launch to satellites’ end of life, are being developed by more than 50 companies. According to Euroconsult’s 1st edition of Space Logistic Markets report, this diverse set of on-orbit services is expected to generate $4.4 billion by 2031.

The six markets covered in this report highlight the development of end-to-end on-orbit mobility and associated services through Access to space, Last Mile Logistics (LML), Life Extension, Active Debris Removal (ADR), On-orbit Assembly and Manufacturing (OOAM) and Space Situational Awareness (SSA) at different stages of maturity.

The markets’ maturities are uneven across the space logistics value chain, with the report estimating SSA as the largest market with earnings of $1.4 billion over the next ten years, and LML evaluated as ten times smaller. A continuously growing satellite demand and a congested orbital environment are fueling the need for SSA services, whilst satellite operators are endorsing SSA services to increase domain awareness and protect their assets both above and on the ground. (5/19)

SpaceX Drops Plan to Build Mini LNG Plant at Texas Launch Site (Source: Bloomberg)
SpaceX has scrapped plans to build a small-scale liquefied natural gas plant at the rocket company’s Boca Chica launch site in Texas, federal documents show. SpaceX no longer proposes to build a desalination plant, power plant, natural gas pre-treatment system and liquefier at the site’s vertical launch area, the US Fish & Wildlife Service said in a May 12 document. The SpaceX plans were described in previous assessment documents in September and October. SpaceX didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Editor's Note: The LNG and desalination plant has been a controversial part of SpaceX's plan for Starbase's expansion to accommodate regular launches of its Starship/Super Heavy configuration. Removing this element of the grand plan at Starbase would require SpaceX to truck large quantities of LNG to the launch site for the rocket, or build a pipeline. Both of these alternatives might expand the scope of the ongoing environmental impact review for the site. (5/19)

Elon Musk’s SpaceX Tender Offer Getting ‘Tepid’ Demand (Source: New York Post)
Elon Musk is finding there is a limit to the amount of money he can raise — even from his exploration company SpaceX — after the privately-owned firm launched a funding round this week. There is “very tepid demand” in SpaceX’s tender offer for $1.25 billion, a source with direct knowledge of the situation told The Post on Tuesday.

The Post broke the news on Monday that SpaceX was launching the tender offer, raising speculation that Musk — who owned 44 percent of the shares as of August — was selling some stock to help fund his $44 billion Twitter deal. Musk is not believed to have ever sold stock in SpaceX and it is still not clear that he is participating in this tender offer, a second source close to the situation said.

But this tender offer looks like it is not going to be oversubscribed, the sources said. SpaceX still might be able to sell the $1.25 billion in shares that existing stockholders are selling, but likely not much more, sources said. The company’s $125 billion valuation is 25 percent above its December 2021 valuation and 69 percent more than SpaceX was valued at in February 2021. “No one is paying up for anything in this market,” the second source said, with public and private valuations of tech companies collapsing. (5/19)

Ball and Raytheon to Develop NOAA Weather Satellite Instruments (Source: Space News)
Ball Aerospace and Raytheon won government awards for work on next-generation satellite weather instruments. Each company won fixed-price awards valued at about $5 million each for definition studies of concepts for the Atmospheric Composition instrument for the Geostationary Extended Observations program, called GeoXO. The instrument will gather imagery from ultraviolet through visible spectral bands for studying atmospheric chemicals and aerosols. Based on the industry studies, NOAA will establish requirements for the instrument implementation contract, which the agency plans to award in 2024. NOAA plans to start fielding the GeoXO satellites in the early 2030s. (5/19)

Europe and Canada Lead Actic Weather Satellite Observation (Source: Space News)
Europe and Canada are taking the lead in developing weather satellites to gather global data and improve observation of the Arctic. A consortium led by OHB Sweden AB is developing a prototype for the European Space Agency's Arctic Weather Satellite, a proposed constellation of 16 small satellites in polar orbit to gather weather data. A prototype satellite is scheduled for launch in 2024. The Canadian Space Agency is working with Environment and Climate Change Canada and Natural Resources Canada on a two-year campaign to evaluate the cost and potential benefits of a proposed Arctic Observing Mission, with two satellites in highly elliptical orbits. Those satellites could launch in the early 2030s if approved for funding in 2025. (5/19)

Japanese Astronaut Likely for Artemis Lunar Mission (Source: Kyodo)
Japan and the United States could soon confirm plans to fly Japanese astronauts to the moon. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and President Joe Biden are expected to announce their "shared ambition" to include Japanese astronauts on Artemis lunar landing missions when the leaders meet in Tokyo early next week. Japanese government sources said the announcement will also include their intent to complete an agreement next year on bilateral space exploration cooperation. Kishida said in December that he had a goal of landing a Japanese astronaut on the moon in the late 2020s. (5/19)

India Plans 75-Satellite Constellation for IoT, Independence Celebration (Source: India Today)
India is planning to mark 75 years of independence with a 75-satellite constellation. The 75 satellites, built by students, will be launched to low Earth orbit later this year, according to information provided by the Indian space agency ISRO to government ministries. The satellites will test internet-of-things applications, but ISRO provided few additional details on the satellites. (5/19)

NASA Puzzled by Latest Voyager 1 Telemetry (Source: Space.com)
NASA is puzzled by telemetry coming from the Voyager 1 spacecraft. Project officials said that while the spacecraft appears to be operating normally, a system used to control the spacecraft's attitude is providing "junk telemetry data" to controllers. That issue is not affecting the actual orientation of the spacecraft, deepening the mystery about the problem. Voyager 2 is not experiencing the same problem, NASA added. (5/19)

NASA Puts Hold on ISS Spacewalks (Source: Space News)
NASA is putting on hold spacewalks at the ISS while it investigates a water leak during a spacewalk in March. In that March 23 spacewalk, ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer reported a thin layer of water pooling on his visor at the end of the seven-hour spacewalk. At a briefing earlier this week, NASA confirmed that the agency is "no-go" on routine spacewalks while it continues to investigate the problem, but would consider performing contingency spacewalks for any critical repairs on the station. NASA was not planning any spacewalks until later this year. NASA's safety advisers also noted the issue at a meeting last week, seeing it as evidence the aging spacesuits needs to be replaced. (5/19)

Space Force: Industry Innovations Outpacing DoD Demand (Source: Space News)
The Pentagon is finding it difficult to keep up with commercial space innovations, a Space Force general said Wednesday. Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein, commander of the U.S. Space Force's Space Systems Command, said the rate of progress in industry is "actually outpacing the demand signal from the government," and that the military was challenged to best make use of those capabilities. There are many business opportunities for companies but they are not presented to them in a user friendly way, he said, noting efforts to address the problem from increased frequency of industry days to "sherpas" to guide startups. (5/19)

Norway Orders Microsatellites to Monitor North Sea Traffic (Source: Space News)
Norway's Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace has ordered three microsatellites to keep tabs on vessels operating clandestinely in the North Sea. The satellites, to be built by Lithuania's NanoAvionics for a 2024 launch, will carry instruments to track AIS transponders on ships as well as detect radar signals from vessels not broadcasting AIS signals. The satellites will support Norway's defense operations and efforts to crack down on activities including illegal fishing, smuggling and environmental crime. (5/19)

SpaceX Urged by US to Ease Blow to Wildlife in Texas Launch Plan (Source: Bloomberg)
The Fish and Wildlife Service has completed its assessment of the effects of SpaceX Starship launches from the company's Boca Chica, Texas, test site. The final assessment, completed last week, recommended several mitigation measures to limit the impact of Starship launches on endangered species, including adjusting lights and using shuttle buses to take employees to the launch site. The review is part of a broader environmental assessment, currently scheduled for completion late this month after several delays, needed for an FAA launch license. (5/19)

Blue Origin Delays Next New Shepard Suborbital Tourism Mission (Source: Blue Origin)
Blue Origin is delaying a New Shepard suborbital flight that had been scheduled for Friday. The company said Wednesday that a backup system on the vehicle "was not meeting our expectations for performance," but did not elaborate on the specific system or problem. The NS-21 mission, carrying six customers, will be delayed, but Blue Origin did not announce a new launch date. (5/19)

May 18, 2022

U.S. Officials say Pentagon Committed to Understanding UFO Origins (Source: Reuters)
Two senior U.S. defense intelligence officials said on Tuesday the Pentagon is committed to determining the origins of what it calls "unidentified aerial phenomena" - commonly termed UFOs - but acknowledged many remain beyond the government's ability to explain. The two officials, Ronald Moultrie and Scott Bray, appeared before a House of Representatives intelligence subcommittee for the first public U.S. congressional hearing on the subject in a half century.

It came 11 months after a government report documented more than 140 cases of unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAPs, that U.S. military pilots had observed since 2004. The 2021 report included some UAPs revealed in previously released Pentagon video of enigmatic objects exhibiting speed and maneuverability exceeding known aviation technology and lacking any visible means of propulsion or flight-control surfaces. Bray said those incidents, including one described by Navy pilots as resembling flying Tic Tac breath mints, are among cases still categorized as "unresolved." (5/17)

NASA Partnership Brings STEM, Tutoring Programs to Space Coast Town (Source: Talk of Titusville)
The East Mims Learning Center will officially kick off this Saturday, May 21st, with an eight-week tutoring program for middle school students running from May 31 through July 22. The program will also highlight the NASA connection through offerings from NASA’s Center for Space Education. There will also be a field trip to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex at the end of the eight weeks.

Interested parents can now sign up their students for a registration interview. The portal for teachers to apply to work at the center is also active on Employ Florida’s website. Click here. (5/18)

Rocket Engine Exhaust Pollution Extends High Into Earth's Atmosphere (Source: Space Daily)
Reusable space technology has led to a rise in space transportation at a lower cost, as popularized by commercial spaceflights of companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic. What is poorly understood, however, is rockets' propulsion emissions creating significant heating and compositional changes in the atmosphere. Now researchers have assessed the potential impact of a rocket launch on atmospheric pollution by investigating the heat and mass transfer and rapid mixing of the combustion byproducts for altitudes up to 67 kilometers into the atmosphere.

"We show that pollution from rockets should not be underestimated as frequent future rocket launches could have a significant cumulative effect on the Earth's climate," said co-author Ioannis Kokkinakis. The researchers found the production of thermal nitrogen oxides (NOx), components of the combustion exhaust, can remain high up to altitudes with an ambient atmospheric pressure above or even slightly below the nozzles' exit pressure, i.e., below an altitude of approximately 10 km. At the same time, the emitted mass of carbon dioxide as the rocket climbs 1 kilometer in altitude in the mesosphere is equivalent to that contained in 26 cubic kilometers of atmospheric air at the same altitude. (5/18)

SpaceX Launches Third Batch of 53 Starlink Satellites in a Week (Source: Florida Today)
A SpaceX Falcon 9 launched a set of Starlink satellites Wednesday morning, the third such launch in less than a week. The Falcon 9 liftoff from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A at 6:59 a.m. Eastern and deployed its payload of 53 Starlink satellites into orbit an hour later. The booster landed on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean. The launch followed Falcon 9 launches from California and Florida last Friday and Saturday, which also carried Starlink satellites as SpaceX continues to build out its broadband constellation. (5/18)

DoD Tackles Supply Chain Issues for Space Projects (Source: Space News)
The Pentagon's Space Development Agency (SDA) and its contractors have scrambled to deal with supply chain problems that have affected the entire space industry. SDA plans to launch 28 satellites between September and next March, but those spacecraft have been affected by shortages of microprocessors, focal plane arrays and lower-end items. SDA Director Derek Tournear said industry competitors agreed to share parts to help the agency meet that schedule. He warned similar supply chain problems would likely be a factor for the larger set of Transport Layer Tranche 1 satellites entering development. (5/18)

DARPA Gains Success in Satellite Laser Links (Source: Space News)
Two small satellites launched last summer by DARPA successfully tested a laser intersatellite link last month. CACI International, the supplier of the optical terminals, said more than 200 gigabits of data were transmitted and received over a distance of about 100 kilometers during the 40-minute test involving the two Mandrake 2 satellites. The project was funded by SDA and the Air Force Research Laboratory to test optical intersatellite links, a key technology for DARPA's Blackjack program and SDA's Transport Layer. While not all Transport Layer Tranche 0 satellites will have intersatellite links, SDA's Tournear said all Tranche 1 satellites will. (5/18)

AST SpaceMobile Committed to Constellation Deployment (Source: Space News)
AST SpaceMobile will start deploying operational satellites in 2023 even if an upcoming experimental satellite fails. The company's operational BlueBird satellite program has continued amid more than 700 ground tests performed on BlueWalker 3, the experimental satellite scheduled to launch this summer. BlueWalker 3 will test the ability of the satellite to connect directly to handsets in tests under an FCC experimental license and in several other countries. AST SpaceMobile is on track to complete a second manufacturing facility in Texas by the end of 2022, which would enable the company to ramp up to producing six BlueBird satellites a month the following year. (5/18)

NASA Plans End for InSight Mars Mission as Dust Covers Lander's Solar Panels (Source: Space News)
NASA confirmed Tuesday that the end is in sight for the InSight Mars lander. Project officials said that dust accumulating on the spacecraft's solar panels, along with increased dust in the atmosphere from seasonal changes, mean power levels are dropping to critical levels. Spacecraft controllers will start turning off science instruments and put the lander's robotic arm into a final "retirement pose" in the next few weeks, and operate the main instrument, a seismometer, intermittently through the summer. Power levels will likely cause the spacecraft to cease operations entirely by the end of the year, which NASA had anticipated for some time. (5/18)

Innospace Will Conduct Suborbital Launch from Brazil’s Alcântara Spaceport (Source: PayloadSpace.com)
Innospace, a South Korean rocket startup, has reached an agreement with Brazil to launch the first suborbital test flight of HANBIT TLV in Q4 of this year from the Alcântara Space Center. The 15-ton thrust, single-stage hybrid rocket that will be flown from Brazil is but one step in a longer journey. HANBIT TLV is designed to validate the first stage of HANBIT Nano, Innospace’s forthcoming small launcher with 50 kg of payload capacity. The suborbital vehicle will carry SISNAV, an inertial navigation system payload, for the Brazilian military. (5/5)

Uzbekistan Seeks Satellite Broadband Coverage (Source: Space News)
Uzbekistan is trying to convince Starlink and OneWeb to bring their satellite broadband services to the Central Asian country. Top officials recently met with Starlink and OneWeb representatives in the country’s capital, Tashkent, asking for their satellite broadband services to be made available in Uzbekistan. The country's space agency signed a memorandum of understanding with OneWeb Monday to begin discussions on regulatory issues for OneWeb operations in the country. (5/18)

Canada Plans Space-Based Arctic Satellite Monitoring (Source: Space News)
The Canadian government is bolstering its defense and surveillance capabilities in the Arctic with a focus on using space assets and new technology. The Canadian federal budget proposal released last month included nearly $200 million to start research on modernizing the joint Canada-U.S. North Warning System in the Arctic. Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand said Russia's invasion of Ukraine and concerns about its activities in the Arctic prompted the funding request. Canadian and U.S. defense officials still have to work out the specifics of the modernization, but estimated it will cost around $10 billion over several years, and include some space systems like communications. (5/18)

NASA Launch Windows for Artemis 1 Extend Into 2023 (Source: Ars Technica)
NASA is planning Artemis 1 launch dates well into next year, just in case. NASA released a schedule of launch windows for the first flight of the Space Launch System this week, which included planning not just for this summer and fall but through the first half of 2023. NASA said that document "is not meant to convey anything about the probability of launching in 2022 or 2023" but instead is part of standard planning. At a House appropriations hearing about the agency's budget Tuesday, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson projected a launch in August. (5/18)

SES 22 and Nilesat 301 Take Slow Boat to Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
Two geostationary satellites scheduled to launch later this year on Falcon 9 rockets arrived at Cape Canaveral by ship. SES 22 and Nilesat 301, scheduled to launch in June on separate Falcon 9 rockets, arrived at Port Canaveral over the weekend on a transport ship. Thales Alenia Space built both spacecraft and originally planned to fly them from France to Florida on an Antonov cargo plane, but the Russian cargo airline that operates the plane can't operate in the United States or Europe because of sanctions. (5/18)

First Air Force Transitions to AFSPACE (Source: Space Daily)
The Department of Defense designated First Air Force, headquartered at Tyndall AFB in Florida, as 'Air Forces Space' (AFSPACE), and the fifth service component to U.S. Space Command May 3. The change postures First Air Force to provide airpower expertise and advocacy in support of USSPACECOM's mission to conduct operations in, from and to space while integrating spacepower into the support of First Air Force's homeland defense mission.

On July 15, 2021, First Air Force, now AFSPACE, assumed the operational command and control of the Human Space Flight Support, or HSFS, mission, which was previously executed by the Combined Force Space Component Command at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. This First Air Force mission is executed through its assigned Detachment 3 (Det. 3) based at Patrick Space Force Base in Florida.

Det. 3, formerly commanded by Space Launch Delta 45, realigned under First Air Force during a redesignation and change of command ceremony held at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, also that day. Air Force Lt. Gen. Kirk Pierce, commander, First Air Force, Continental U.S. NORAD Region, AFNORTH, and now AFSPACE, affirmed his team's commitment to USSPACECOM. (5/13)

Coast Guard Concludes Investigation Into Royal Caribbean Ship's Interference with SpaceX Launch (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
One of the world’s largest cruise ship ran afoul of SpaceX earlier this year when Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas wandered into waters it was supposed to avoid because of a launch attempt. The incident on Jan. 30 caused a scrub of the SpaceX Falcon 9 trying to launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station as the vessel had previously left from Port Canaveral like it normally would on a Sunday departure.

Leading up to the attempted launch, SpaceX commentators said the Coast Guard was trying to get word to the ship that it had ventured into the down-range safety zone off the coast of Brevard County, but the ship was not able to vacate the zone in time. Mission managers shouting “Hold! Hold ! Hold!” scrubbed the launch with less than a minute before the planned liftoff. It was able to launch the following day without issue sending the COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation FM2 satellite run by the Italian Space Agency into orbit.

Now more than three months later, the Coast Guard has concluded its investigation of the incident, as it’s the entity establishing and enforcing the safety zones. “When these zones are violated, the Coast Guard may pursue administrative enforcement actions,” reads a statement from the U.S. Coast Guard 7th District Southeast. “Such actions may include monetary fines and or future vessel control actions.” The Coast Guard did not elaborate what sort of action was taken if any against Royal Caribbean. (5/17)

Gilmour Space Completes Full Duration Test Fire of New Phoenix Rocket Engine (Source: Space Daily)
An Australian launch services company known for its orbital-class hybrid rocket technology, Gilmour Space Technologies, has unveiled a new 3D printed liquid rocket engine that will power the third stage of its Eris rocket to orbit. The company has shared a video of a successful 190-second Mission Duty Cycle (or mission duration) test fire of its new regeneratively-cooled liquid rocket engine.

Eris is a three-stage rocket being developed by Gilmour Space for launching small satellites into low earth orbits. Its maiden launch is targeted to be at the end of this year from the Bowen Orbital Spaceport in north Queensland, pending regulatory and other approvals. (5/17)

NASA Concerns Over SpaceX’s KSC Starship Launch Pad Too Close to Commercial Crew and Falcon Heavy Pad (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
David West, a member of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, said SpaceX plans to eventually launch the huge next-generation Starship rocket, currently under development in South Texas, from the Kennedy Space Center could pose a risk to the Falcon 9 and Dragon launch facility at pad 39A. “There are obvious safety concerns about launching the large, and as yet unproven, Starship in such close proximity, reportedly only 300 yards or so, from another pad, let alone the path so vitally necessary for the commercial crew program.”

Pad 39A is also the only launch facility currently capable of launching SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, necessary to haul some heavier NASA and U.S. military spacecraft into orbit. SpaceX is finishing work on a Starship launch pad in South Texas, but the FAA is reviewing the environmental impacts of SpaceX’s operations at the site before issuing a commercial launch license for the first full-up Starship orbital test flight. (5/13)

DIU Selects Nuclear-Powered Spacecraft Designs for 2027 Demonstrations (Source: Space News)
The Defense Innovation Unit announced May 17 it selected Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp. and Avalanche Energy to develop small nuclear-powered spacecraft for in-space demonstrations planned for 2027. DIU, a Silicon Valley-based Pentagon organization that works with commercial industries and startups, awarded both companies “other transaction” contracts to demonstrate nuclear propulsion and power technology for future DoD space missions. OT contracts, increasingly used in military space projects, are negotiated faster than traditional defense procurements.

The selection of Ultra Safe Nuclear and Avalanche comes just seven months after DIU issued a solicitation for small nuclear-powered engines for space missions beyond Earth orbit. Ultra Safe Nuclear will demonstrate a chargeable, encapsulated nuclear radioisotope battery called EmberCore. Avalanche Energy developed a handheld micro-fusion reactor called Orbitron. Orbitron devices may be scaled down in size and enable their use as both a propulsion and power source. (5/17)

NASA, Air Liquide Continue Working on Artemis 1 WDR Issues (Source: NasaSpaceFlight.com)
NASA’s Artemis 1 flight vehicle remains in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida while work to investigate and fix problems found in April at the launch pad continues. A series of issues were discovered during three attempts to perform the Wet Dress Rehearsal (WDR) while the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS) rocket were out at Launch Pad 39B.

While the Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) program and prime launch processing contractor Jacobs are troubleshooting issues with connections from the Mobile Launcher to the vehicle in the VAB, they are also working with gaseous nitrogen (GN2) contractor Air Liquide to verify that the purge gas supply can meet the flow rate and duration requirements to support an SLS launch attempt. (5/16)

Chinese Military Thinking on Orbits Beyond GEO (Source: Space Review)
Military interest in the region of space beyond geostationary Earth orbit, such as cislunar space, is growing. Kristin Burke examines how that region of space is treated in Chinese academic military papers and its implications for space security. Click here. (5/16)
 
“Times are Changing”: NASA Looks to Move Beyond the Traditional Contract (Source: Space Review)
NASA administrator Bill Nelson called traditional cost-plus contracts a “plague” on the agency during a congressional hearing earlier this month. Jeff Foust reports on how the agency is looking to make greater use of fixed-price contracts and competition, and the challenges it faces doing so. Click here. (5/16)
 
All the Myriad Worlds (Source: Space Review)
What’s your favorite moon in the solar system? (You do have one, right?) Dwayne Day offers his favorite moons, based not just on science but also the stories they tell. Click here. (5/16)
 
Kosmos 482: Questions Around a Failed Venera Lander From 1972 Still Oorbiting Earth (But Not for Long) (Source: Space Review)
Fifty years ago, the Soviet Union launched a mission to Venus that was stranded in Earth orbit. Marco Langbroek examines what’s known about the last element of that mission still in orbit and when it’s likely to reenter. Click here. (5/16)

Paso Robles Plans Spaceport Activities With Cal Poly and Stellar Explorations (Source: KEYT)
Support of Paso Robles' Spaceport designation is increasing, the City signed two letters of intent to partner for Spaceport activities with Cal Poly and Stellar Explorations. City officials said that Paso Robles is in the process of seeking a "spaceport" designation for the municipal airport.

"The Spaceport concept in Paso Robles is in support of horizontal launches only, primarily to get CubeSats (small satellites) into earth’s orbit," said the city. "The development of the spaceport would be through a license from the Federal Aviation Administration, rather than any new construction or infrastructure." (5/16)

Citizen Scientists Help Discover More Than 1,000 New Asteroids (Source: Ars Technica)
On International Asteroid Day in 2019, a group of research institutions launched a program that could make a deep impact on our knowledge of the diminutive bodies. Using citizen science to train a machine-learning algorithm, the Hubble Asteroid Hunter project identified more than 1,000 new asteroids; the discoveries could help scientists better understand the ring of heavenly bodies that primarily float between Mars and Jupiter.

Asteroid Hunter is a collaborative effort between various groups, including the European Science and Technology Centre, the European Space Astronomy Centre’s Science Data Centre, the Zooniverse citizen science platform, and Google.

In 2019, the researchers sent out a call for citizen scientists to collaborate on the crowd-sourced effort. Through the Zooniverse platform, 11,400 members of the public from around the world identified asteroid trails in 37,000 composite images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope between 2002 and 2021. The citizen scientists pored over the images for a year and identified more than 1,000 trails. (5/16)

Russia to Focus on Life-Science Experiments on ISS (Source: TASS)
Roscosmos plans to carry out a large number of life-science experiments on the ISS, director of the state corporation's research and analysis center Igor Potashny said. "We are currently planning quite a wide range of life-science experiments as the next most groundbreaking stage of space exploration is pilot-controlled exploration of outer space. It is necessary to find out how a human will behave under the influence of external space factors," he said.

It is necessary now to compile a list of biological entities that may be modified and studied, Potashny noted, adding that for this purpose, among other things, a 3D-bioprinter has been delivered to the ISS, which confirmed the possibility of growing in space without the influence of the Earth's gravitational pull. (5/16)

Question of Space National Guard Heats Up Following Legislation, Hearings (Source: Breaking Defense)
With new legislation introduced to force the creation of a Space National Guard program, the question of the newest military service’s structure is once again in the spotlight. On May 3, Gen. Jay Raymond, the Space Force head, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that a Space Guard setup could be done two ways: “Either have a separate Space National Guard or take the capabilities from the Guard and move them into” a single component concept.

Speaking May 13 in front of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, Raymond elaborated, saying that working out the service structure is a top priority for him. The issue has been simmering ever since the creation of the Space Force in December 2019, with National Guard leadership vocally making the case for a new branch. Indeed, in early 2020 top Guard adjutants general broke with the Pentagon to speak out in favor of a separate Space Guard, and began a congressional lobbying campaign.

“Without a National Guard component for Space Force, we risk losing many talented individuals who want to keep serving their country and their states after they leave active duty, and that is simply unacceptable,” Feinstein said in the announcement of the legislation. “Creating a Space Force National Guard would also save money and ensure a smoother process in the event we need to activate personnel. Not establishing a Space National Guard was a mistake when Space Force was created, and this bill will remedy that.” (5/13)

Riding Along For An L-1011 Pegasus Air Launch Flight Demonstration (Source: Aviation Week)
For the demo mission, Don Walter, chief pilot of L-1011 flight operations, devised a flightpath that approximated a typical launch profile. For airspace and time reasons, the route took us over California’s Central Valley toward Bakersfield rather than into the Stargazer’s more regular haunts in the Pacific test ranges off the coast from Vandenberg Space Force Base.

Our approach to the launch point was at roughly half the speed and one-third the altitude of a standard mission. Walter’s navigation waypoints were therefore spaced out to replicate the final 12 min. of the sequence in terms of time rather than distance and brought us to the initial point (IP) after approaching downwind from the south and reversing course for the launch.

A typical box could measure 10 X 40 mi., Walter said, and provides a small margin for launch delay in the event of a last-minute detection of a potential orbital conflict with a crewed or active spacecraft. “We’re doing 8 mi. a minute, so we can go for 4 min. and the launch director can delay the launch—usually by 30 sec. or so—within that period,” he said. (5/4)