Russian Scientists To Study Hazards Of Lunar Dust

Russian scientists will study the hazards of lunar dust for humans, Deputy Director of the Institute of Medical and Biological Problems within the Russian Academy of Sciences Vladimir Sychyov said on Saturday.

“The dust has the structure of the ‘hedgehog’ and if it gets into humans’ lungs, they won’t be able to get rid of it. This is very dangerous. The lunar dust has to be studied from the viewpoint of safety,” the researcher said.

As Russia implements its Luna-Grunt (Moon-Soil) mission (scheduled for 2025), the institute’s scientists plan to obtain lunar dust samples for studies, Sychyov said.

Read more at: TASS

SpaceX Crew Capsule, Falcon 9 Rocket Roll Out To Pad 39A In Florida For Tests

SpaceX rolled out the company’s first space-worthy Crew Dragon spacecraft and its Falcon 9 launcher to pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the first time Thursday, beginning a series of fit checks before the commercial spaceship takes off on its first orbital test flight.

Shrouded in off-and-on fog, the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule emerged from SpaceX’s hangar at the southern perimeter of launch pad 39A shortly after 7 a.m. EST (1200 GMT) Thursday for the quarter-mile trip up the ramp to the former Saturn 5 and space shuttle launch complex. The rocket was raised vertical just before 5:30 p.m. EST (2230 GMT).

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Russia May Use Genetic Method To Select Cosmonauts In Future

A genetic approach may be used in the future to select cosmonauts, Deputy Director of the Institute of Medical and Biological Problems within the Russian Academy of Sciences Lyudmila Buravkova said on Saturday.

“As for genetic research, two large platforms or two large areas can be singled out. The first area is the research into the human’s genetics from the viewpoint of using it in the selection… The second area is the attempt to remedy genetic errors as much as this should be done before a flight,” the researcher pointed out.

Today the person’s health condition, the body’s reserves and its reaction to extreme impacts are basically scrutinized to select cosmonauts, the researcher said.

Read more at: TASS

ISRO To Send 3 Indians In Space For Seven Days

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will send a three-member team into space for up to a week when it launches its first manned mission expected in 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Union Cabinet announced on Friday.

The ambitious human spaceflight initiative – Gaganyaan – will India into a select league of nations along with the USA, Russia and China.

In his first Independence day speech in 2014, PM Modi had spoken about the plan to launch first human spaceflight by 2022. ISRO has been given a tight schedule of 40 months and a Rs 9,023 crore budget to convert this dream into reality.

Read more at: DNA India

Crewed Orion Spacecraft Passes Critical Design Review

In early December, NASA’s Orion Program completed a “Delta” Critical Design Review (CDR) of the crewed spacecraft configuration that will first fly on Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2). This CDR focused on the changes between the uncrewed spacecraft configuration that will fly on Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) and EM-2.

The CDR looked at the progress of designs for new or significantly modified Orion systems for EM-2. CDR Reviews began in September and culminated in a board meeting on December 3.

NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and their U.S. and European prime contractors are looking at the Orion EM-2 schedule, which currently targets launch of a four-person crew in the second half of 2022 on a lunar flyby test flight.

Read more at: NASA Spaceflight

Fireball Seen Over New Zealand During Cricket Match Was The Reentry Of Kosmos 2430 (2007-049A)

The image above is a still image from TV-footage shot during the January 5th 2019 cricket match of Sri Lanka against New Zealand at Mount Maunganui, New Zealand. The camera captured a bright, very slow, copiously fragmenting fireball that occurred during the match.

From the video footage, the event had a duration of at last 1 minute, and likely longer. The event was widely seen and reported from New Zealand: more images and more noteworthy video footage, as well as descriptions, can be found in this news article from the New Zealand Herald. From the footage it is clear that this is a space debris reentry: the event is too slow and of too long duration to be a meteoric fireball.

Read more at: Sattrack

Will Space Tourism Ever Be A Viable Business?

Ten years ago, I wrote a story about the space tourism “industry”, centered around Mojave, California, a bit more than an hour’s drive north of Los Angeles. Mojave and the area around it, particularly Edwards Air Force Base, have been a cradle of rocket-powered flight since Chuck Yeager and the X-1.

My space tourism story followed a very early morning in 2004. That day, I let my son play hooky from middle school. Instead, we drove to Mojave to see the launch of the first private manned space flight, SpaceShipOne.

We craned our necks to watch the tiny craft detach from its mothership and zoom up to a record-breaking height of over 300,000 feet. It seemed we were on the verge of a new era—the era of private suborbital spaceflight.

Read more at: Forbes

America Is About to Take Back Human Spaceflight, and It’s a Lot More Than Just Flag-Waving

There’s an American flag affixed to a hatch on the International Space Station, circling about 250 miles above the planet. The crew of the first space shuttle mission, STS-1, carried that very flag in 1981. The final shuttle flight, in 2011, left the flag behind in orbit to be claimed by the next crew to fly into space from U.S. soil.

This is the year the flag comes home.

After years of radical invention, aerospace design, political feuding, and faith in ingenuity—and eight years since the shuttle retirement—the United States is on the cusp of recapturing the ability to reach space from U.S. soil. Two companies, Boeing and SpaceX, are assembling hardware for testing capsule launches, a dress rehearsal for future crewed flights.

Read more at: Popular mechanics

Musk vs. Bezos: The Battle of the Space Billionaires Heats Up

The commercial space business has blossomed over the past decade. Two companies, though, have grabbed the spotlight, emerging as the most ambitious of them all: Blue Origin and SpaceX.

At first glance, these two companies look a lot alike. They are both led by billionaires who became wealthy from the Internet: Jeff Bezos of Blue Origin earned his fortune from Amazon.com, and Elon Musk of SpaceX got rich initially from Web-based businesses, notably PayPal. Both companies are developing large, reusable launch vehicles capable of carrying people and satellites for government and commercial customers. And both are motivated by almost messianic visions of humanity’s future beyond Earth. This coming year, we’ll likely see some major milestones as these two titans continue to jockey for position.

Read more at: IEEE Spectrum

U.S. Space Economy Set To Blast Off In 2019

All this week we’re looking ahead to 2019 and what’s likely to be big in business and technology. This year, expect the space economy to really take off. According to Space Angels, an investment firm specializing in aerospace, private investment in space-related businesses has jumped from a handful of companies and a couple hundred million dollars in 2009 to 375 companies and $15 billion today. The Trump administration is making space a huge economic priority, as well as a military one. Last month, a new U.S. Space Command was created to oversee and organize the country’s space-based operations. Molly Wood talked with Kimberly Adams, a senior reporter at Marketplace and our resident space expert. Adams said all these moves are part of an international race to space that’s fueled by money. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Read more at: Market place

Clearing The Air For Deep Space Travel

Matthew D. Green, an assistant professor of chemical engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, wants to help space travelers breathe easier.

Astronauts inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide when traveling in space just like they do on Earth. But on the Earth’s surface, exhaled carbon dioxide is absorbed by plant life. Space is decidedly less green, creating the need to prevent the toxic gas from building up.

When humans exhale carbon dioxide in a sealed environment such as a space capsule, the oxygen level falls while the carbon dioxide level rises.

Read more at: ASU Now

‘This Is More Than Just A Landing’: Why China’s Mission On The Far Side Of The Moon Should Be A Wake-Up Call For The World

After several weeks of coasting through the void between Earth and its moon, China landed a space mission called Chang’e 4 on the lunar surface.

However, Chang’e 4 didn’t touch down just anywhere: China parked the car-sized lander and its rover on the moon’s far side – an enigmatic region that, until now, humans have explored from only above.

China’s feat was celebrated around the world by space-exploration enthusiasts and even top-level NASA officials. After all, it could help unlock ancient secrets of the moon’s violent formation, scan a crystal-clear night sky for radio objects billions of light-years from Earth, and even help locate deposits of water ice.

Read more at: Business insider

What Is The Dark Side Of The Moon?

The short answer? It’s a misnomer. A cool-sounding misnomer! But a misnomer. Assuming they aren’t talking about the Pink Floyd album or the French mockumentary, people who say “the dark side of the moon” are almost always referring to the moon’s far side—which, despite pointing permanently away from those of us planetside, actually sees as much sunlight as the side facing Earth.

Maybe you already knew that. But! Did you also know that slivers of the moon’s elusive far side are constantly slipping into view? Or that certain lunar regions are, in fact, shrouded in permanent darkness?

Read more at: Wired

Russian Space Agency Demands NASA Explanation After Rogozin Visit Called Off

Russia’s space agency says it is demanding an explanation after NASA called off the planned visit to the United States by Dmitry Rogozin, the chief of Roskosmos who is subject to U.S. and European Union sanctions.

In a statement cited by the state-run TASS news agency on January 5, Roskosmos said that “it expects official explanations of NASA’s position” and stressed that Rogozin’s visit was planned “in accordance with an invitation received earlier.”

Roskosmos added that planned talks on possible cooperation with the United States on the International Space Station (ISS) are “so far not suspended.” Earlier, Roskosmos said it had not received notification from NASA that the visit had been postponed.

Read more at: rferl

What’s Behind China’s Space Programme Expansion

China is a relative late-bloomer when it comes to the world of space exploration.

But just 15 years after it first sent an astronaut into orbit, China has become the first country to successfully land a robotic spacecraft on the far side of the Moon.

And in the next decades it plans not only to build a new space station, but also a base on the Moon and conduct missions to Mars.

Importantly, Xi Jinping, the country’s most powerful leader since Chairman Mao, has thrown his support behind the “space dream” – and with it billions in investment. Chinese state media, meanwhile, have cast the “space dream” as one step in the path to “national rejuvenation”.

Read more at: BBC

Ostp Finally Gets A New Director

Almost two years into President Trump’s term, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is getting a new director.  Kelvin Droegemeier was confirmed by the Senate tonight as one of its last acts before the end of the 115th Congress.  Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota), outgoing chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, praised the action.

Droegemeier is a renowned meteorologist specializing in severe weather events such as thunderstorms and tornadoes. He has doctorate and master’s degree in atmospheric sciences and a bachelor’s in meteorology.  Currently the Vice President for Research at the University of Oklahoma, he served on the National Science Board, which oversees the National Science Foundation, from 2004-2016, serving as vice-chair for the last four of those years. His biography posted there notes that he “helped pioneer the science of storm-scale numerical weather forecasting.”

Read more at: Space policy online

Space Flag Prepares Airmen For A Real Fight

Air Force Space Command concluded its fourth iteration of the Department of Defense’s premier space exercise last month in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Space Flag 19-1 took place over the course of two weeks, testing Airmen from the 50th Space Wing and the 460th SW. SF 19-1 also included Airmen from the 27th and 26th Space Aggressors Squadrons, which are tenant units of Air Combat Command located at Schriever AFB.

The goal of the exercise is to enable forces to achieve and maintain space superiority in a contested, degraded and operationally limited environment.

“The intent of Space Flag is to allow tactical operators the ability to learn how to fight and defend their systems as an enterprise with other tactical operators in an arena we currently do not have,” said Col. Devin Pepper, 21st Operations Group commander and SF 19-1 space boss.

Read more at: AFSPC

From Paris To Orbit: France’s New Space Strategy

With the landmark CSO-1 satellite launch December 19th and a new space strategy out soon, the French government is finally stepping up in space. A French-led, Europe-wide effort to modernize space capabilities had been announced in 2010, but it had been stalled for lack of urgency and funding. Now that’s changing.

French space spending had already doubled from 300 million Euros in 2008 to 600 million in 2014. The 2019-2025 budget plan — 3.6 billion over seven years — averages over 500 Euros a year. All this spending has started to bear fruit, with the first CSO military reconnaissance satellite launching Dec. 19, three more intelligence satellite launches planned for 2020, and two telecommunications satellites planned for 2020-2022.

Read more at: Breaking Defense

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iran on Thursday against launching three spacecraft in the coming months, describing them as a cover for testing technology that is necessary to lob a warhead at the United States and other nations.

His statement seemed intended to build a legal case for diplomatic, military or covert action against the Iranian missile program. It was surprising only because Iran has been launching modest space missions, mostly to deploy satellites, since 2005.

Around the time that Mr. Pompeo issued the statement, a 12-year-old Iranian satellite that was launched by Russia was circling the globe, including in a path that took it close to New York. And Mr. Pompeo made no mention of the other country that, over the years, has aided Iran’s ballistic missile and space rocket program: North Korea, whose leader was praised by President Trump as recently as Wednesday for writing him a “beautiful letter.”

Read more at: NY times

Iran Rejects U.S. Warning Against Space Launches, Ballistic Missiles

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif rejected a U.S. warning against carrying out space vehicle launches and missile tests, saying on Thursday they did not violate a U.N. resolution.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a pre-emptive warning to Iran earlier on Thursday against pursuing three planned space rocket launches that it said would violate a U.N. Security Council resolution because they use ballistic missile technology. {nL1N1Z30FE]

“Iran’s launch of space vehicles – & missile tests – are NOT in violation of (Resolution) 2231. The US is in material breach of same, & as such it is in no position to lecture anyone on it,” Zarif wrote in English on Twitter.

Read more at: Reuters

Lost In Space: They Paid $100,000 To Ride On Xcor’s Space Plane. Now They Want Their Money Back

The first sign of trouble was the ever-extended launch date.

One customer of space tourism firm Xcor Aerospace Inc. thought his flight would come in 2011. Nael Hamameh expected 2015 to be the year he would finally achieve his childhood dream of going to space, having paid Xcor $100,000 for a ticket.

But 2015 came and went. After hearing no word of progress, Hamameh asked for a refund. Xcor told him it would try to find someone else to buy his ticket by the end of 2017, but at the least, he would receive $35,000. Then, it all came crashing down in November 2017, when Xcor filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The story of Xcor and its ticket holders — 282 of them, as of the most recent count — is a cautionary tale for the space tourism age.

Read more at: LA Times

Apollo Spacesuits Survive Today — in the Roofs Over Your Head

When the Apollo astronauts launched into space, they wore spacesuits specially designed to protect them from many of the hazards they faced. Although astronauts these days wear different garb than the space explorers from 50 years ago, the Apollo material can be found across the Earth today. But don’t look for it in your local clothing store; material based on spacesuit design has been lifted to new heights, serving as protective roofs for an array of popular buildings.

In 1956, aeronautical engineer Walter Bird founded Birdair Structures Inc. out of his kitchen in Buffalo, New York. His initial focus was on a material known as “Beta cloth,” a durable, lightweight, noncombustable material developed for astronaut wear.

“As far as the material, not much has changed,” Brian Dentinger, Birdair’s director of quality, told Space.com in an email. “It is still Teflon-coated fiberglass.”

Read more at: Space.com

Imagine Giving Birth in Space

The moment has arrived at last. A woman in a hospital gown steels herself, ready to push. A nearby monitor displays her baby’s heart rate in big, neon numbers. A nurse in crisp scrubs coos in her ear, offering words of encouragement, advice. The scene would resemble any other delivery room if it weren’t for the view outside the window: the soft curvature of the blue Earth against the blackness of space, 250 miles below.

Delivering a child in microgravity may sound like science fiction. But for one start-up, it’s the future.

Read more at: Atlantic

New Israeli Book Teaches Kids About Space Travel

Israel is planning on going to the moon. This year, in fact.

With plans to take off from Cape Canaveral, Florida in early 2019, Israeli space initiative SpaceIL wants to educate and excite kids about space travel, and is doing so with a new children’s book, “The Little Spacecraft.”

The illustrated story is written by Dr. Mom, also known as Yael Schuster, with help from veteran journalist Matthew Kalman, who serves on the board of StellarNova, Schuster’s company dedicated to all things scientific for kids, with illustrations by Shana Koppel, also a StellarNova staffer.

Read more at: times of israel

Astronaut Sparks Panic After Accidentally Dialing 911 From Space Sending NASA Into A Frenzy

An astronaut has told how he accidentally called 911 from space, sending security teams at NASA’s Houston base into a frenzy. André Kuipers missed out a number when making a call through HQ back on Earth — and ended up connecting to U.S. emergency services.

The astronomical blunder sparked panic at the Johnson Space Centre in Texas and a security team was scrambled to the room where the call was put through.

He had been orbiting Earth in the International Space Station when he tried to make the call. The 60-year-old spaceman explained how he had pressed 9 to make an outside call. He then tried to phone internationally by pressing 011, but mistakenly left out the zero.

Read more at: Foxnews