DARPA Marks its 60th Anniversary

On this day in 1958, four months after the Soviet Union boosted the intensity of the Cold War by launching humanity’s first satellite, then Secretary of Defense Neil McElroy established the Advanced Research Projects Agency with this mandate: “to provide within the Department of Defense an agency for the direction and performance of certain advanced research and development projects.”

In carrying out that open-ended mission for the past 60 years, the Agency has become widely known as a driver of technological developments that have girded national security (stealth, precision munitions, and unmanned aerial vehicles) and that sometimes have transformed daily civilian life (the internet, miniaturized GPS, and emerging fleets of driverless vehicles).

Read more at: Space Daily

World View Balloon Blast did $200,000 in Damage to Pima County-owned Building

An investigation into a December balloon explosion at the World View Enterprises launch pad near the Tucson airport is underway, with a report with recommendations expected in the “near future,” County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

His comments came amid a discussion spurred by questions and concerns from Supervisor Ally Miller, who has been a critic of the county’s deal with World View. Among other things, Miller was hoping to get information on the extent of the damage, injuries and possible violations of state and federal laws.

Huckelberry, who recently met with company representatives, described damage to the building as “superficial.” The facility’s insurer has cut a check for $200,000 in repairs.

Read more at: Tucson

New Model Shows Just How Strong Solar Flares Could Get

New research shows that a single phenomena might be behind all eruptions on the sun, including solar flares. The research documents the existence of a confining, magnetic “cage” which determines the size, power and type of any given solar eruption that occurs.

The solar flares that jet out from our star send gamma radiation hurtling towards Earth and are hard to predict, even though we’re improving on that front. And since they can be disruptive to humanity, like how a solar flare eruption caused a blackout in the entire Canadian province of Quebec in 1989, it’s good to know as much as we can about them.

Read more at: Popular Mechanics

Proposed Space Station Aims for the Moon and Beyond

The next chapter in cosmic exploration is starting to take shape: NASA engineers have proposed a space station that—if Congress approves its funding—would begin orbiting the moon in about a decade. A primary goal is to develop the infrastructure and experience to one day land humans on Mars.

The Deep Space Gateway (DSG) project would likely be a collaboration among the U.S., Russia and other international partners. It would sit in a lunar orbit about 240,000 miles from Earth—1,000 times farther than the International Space Station (ISS). This would put it outside Earth’s protective magnetic field, letting scientists measure the effects of deep-space radiation on humans and instruments. The station could also be a relay point for expeditions to the moon’s surface. Plans for lunar landers—bearing humans or robots, or both—are still under discussion. NASA officials say astronauts and construction materials could be ferried to lunar orbit in four Orion rocket launches sometime after 2019.

Read more at: Scientific American

Largest Cubesat Operators Say 25-year Deorbit Guideline a Priority

Planet and Spire, operators of the two largest commercial cubesat constellations in orbit, say they manage their fleets to prevent retired spacecraft from lingering in space beyond internationally accepted guidelines.

Speaking at the SmallSat Symposium here Feb. 7, officials from Planet and Spire said the companies have self-imposed rules to ensure their satellites burn up in Earth’s atmosphere within 25 years of shutting down, as suggested by the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination (IADC) committee.

Read more at: Space News

Dream Chaser Mini-shuttle Gets Official Launch Window from NASA

The Dream Chaser mini-shuttle has received an official launch window from NASA for its premiere flight to the International Space Station, according to a statement by Sierra Nevada Corporation.

Dream Chaser’s first mission in late 2020 will take supplies to the orbiting outpost under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services Contract 2 after launching atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The spacecraft can take up to 12,000 pounds of supplies in pressurized and unpressurized compartments and remain attached to the ISS for “extended periods” before gliding back down to Earth.

Read more at: Florida Today

Life on Mars Recreated in Oman Desert

Two scientists in spacesuits, stark white against the auburn terrain of desolate plains and dunes, test a geo-radar built to map Mars by dragging the flat box across the rocky sand.

When the geo-radar stops working, the two walk back to their all-terrain vehicles and radio colleagues at their nearby base camp for guidance. They can’t turn to their mission command, far off in the Alps, because communications from there are delayed 10 minutes.

But this isn’t the red planet — it’s the Arabian Peninsula. The desolate desert in southern Oman, near the borders of Yemen and Saudi Arabia, resembles Mars so much that more than 200 scientists from 25 nations chose it as their location for the next four weeks, to field-test technology for a manned mission to Mars.

Read more at: 9News

Soon Humans will Travel Out Beyond the Moon

Construction has officially begun on the spaceship that will achieve America’s goal of returning astronauts to the Moon. Lockheed Martin technicians and engineers at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans welded together the first two components of the Orion crew module capsule for Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2).

Orion is America’s exploration spaceship, and the EM-2 mission will be its first flight with astronauts on board, taking them farther into the solar system than ever before. This flight, launched atop the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, will usher in a new era of space exploration, laying the groundwork for NASA’s lunar Deep Space Gateway, and ultimately for human missions to Mars.

Read more at: Colorado Spacenews

NASA Studying Commercial Crew Contingency Plans

NASA is beginning to study a contingency option for maintaining access to the International Space Station should commercial crew vehicle development experience delays, one that would turn test flights of those vehicles into operational missions.

Speaking at the Federal Aviation Administration Commercial Space Transportation Conference here Feb. 8, Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said using the planned crewed test flights as crew rotation missions was one option under consideration should neither Boeing nor SpaceX be certified for regular crew rotation missions by the fall of 2019, when NASA’s access to Russian Soyuz spacecraft ends.

Read more at: Space News

Radiation will Tear Elon Musk’s Rocket Car to Bits in a Year

There’s a “midnight cherry” Tesla Roadster hurtling toward deep space right now, the first-ever payload of the Falcon Heavy rocket. It’s worth asking why this is happening, and Live Science has. But given that it is happening, it’s also worth asking what is going to happen to this electric sportscar condemned to what could be a billion-year elliptical journey through outer space.

The first factor that will determine the Roadster’s fate, of course, will be the success or failure of the spacecraft lofting it out of Earth’s gravity well. As Live Science sister site Space.com reported, SpaceX has taken pains to dampen expectations, pointing out the rocket could fail on the launchpad or somewhere in the atmosphere or space.

Read more at: Space.com

Russia is Now Working on a Super Heavy Rocket of its Own

Just days before Elon Musk’s mighty Falcon Heavy roared into the skies, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed off on Russia’s next great rocket. Rocosomos, the country’s space agency, had been waiting years for this Kremlin decree, which gives the go-ahead for developing something known as “supertyazh.” Translated from Russian engineer jargon, that means a “really big rocket.”

Without much fanfare, Roscosmos posted a small announcement Friday saying Putin had signed the document “this week” for the development of the rocket in the super-heavy class, which will be based at the nation’s brand-new Vostochny Spaceport. Here’s what we know about Russia’s big dreams for a big rocket.

Read more at: Popular Mechanics

Musk: Falcon Heavy’s Center Booster Hit Ocean ‘Hard,’ Damaged Drone Ship

The only blemish in what otherwise appeared to be a flawless debut by SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket Tuesday was the demise of the first stage’s center booster.

After the rocket’s 3:45 p.m. launch from Kennedy Space Center, two side boosters returned safely to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for nearly simultaneous, side-by-side, sonic boom-inducing landings that SpaceX CEO Elon Musk described as “epic” and one of the most exciting things he’s ever seen.

But hundreds of miles offshore, the middle booster missed the “drone ship” that was its landing target and hit the Atlantic Ocean at about 300 mph.

Read more at: Florida Today

ESA and Airbus Sign Partnership Agreement for New ISS Commercial Payload Platform Bartolomeo

The European Space Agency (ESA) and Airbus have signed a commercial partnership (PPP) agreement for construction, launch and operations of the commercial “Bartolomeo” platform. Airbus’ new external payload hosting facility will be attached to the European Columbus module of the International Space Station (ISS) from mid-2019.

The agreement defines the roles and responsibilities of the two PPP partners, with Airbus investing around €40 million into the development, construction and launch of this innovative platform, and ESA providing Bartolomeo’s installation on the ISS. Bartolomeo will be launched in the unpressurized compartment of an ISS supply vehicle and installed using the ISS robotics system and an extra-vehicular activity. Airbus is then responsible for platform operations and payload integration.

Read more at: Airbus

Skyrora Plans to Launch Suborbital Flight from Scotland

Scotland will officially join the space race later this year with the launch of a small satellite from a location probably in the north of the country.

The National has learned that Edinburgh-based developers Skyrora are planning a suborbital test flight sometime in the last three months of 2018. Skyrora has already looked at Shetland as a small satellite launch location where the Saxa Vord site of the Shetland Space Centre is bidding for a licence from the UK Space Agency – all matters to do with space are reserved to Westminster.

With its partners in Ukraine, Skyrora aims to grab a share of the growing market for small satellites with their launcher rocket that is similar to the home-grown technology that powered the Black Arrow project in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Read more at: The National

ESA Awards Five Smallsat Launcher Study Contracts

The European Space Agency on Feb. 8 announced five companies will study potential small launch vehicles for the agency’s Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP).

ArianeGroup, MT Aerospace, European Launch Vehicle, Deimos and PLD Space are all proposing “microlaunchers” for dedicated missions to low-Earth orbit that can be “economically viable,” and “commercially self-sustaining” but “without public funding,” ESA said.

“A European commercial microlauncher can meet the growing need for dedicated launch services to companies with small satellites,” Jerome Breteau, manager of ESA’s Future Launchers Preparatory Programme,” said in a Feb. 8 statement.

Read more at: Space News

Using GPS, NASA Tests Atomic Clock for Deep Space Navigation

In deep space, accurate timekeeping is vital to navigation, but many spacecraft lack precise timepieces on board. For 20 years, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has been perfecting a clock. It’s not a wristwatch; not something you could buy at a store. It’s the Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC), an instrument perfect for deep space exploration.

Currently, most missions rely on ground-based antennas paired with atomic clocks for navigation. Ground antennas send narrowly focused signals to spacecraft, which, in turn, return the signal. NASA uses the difference in time between sending a signal and receiving a response to calculate the spacecraft’s location, velocity and path.

Read more at: GPS World

Musk Explains Why SpaceX Prefers Clusters of Small Engines

One of the most striking aspects of this week’s launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket is the number of engines the triple-core booster used to reach orbit. Each of the cores had nine Merlin rocket engines, making for a total of 27 engines.

Prior to this launch, no rocket had ever successfully ascended into orbit with more than nine engines—a feat accomplished previously by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket. (The Russian Soyuz rocket has five engines, each of which has six thrust chambers.)

Read more at: Ars Technica

SpaceX could Save NASA and the Future of Space Exploration

The successful launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket is a game-changer that could actually save NASA and the future of space exploration.

The much delayed, much maligned rocket is just what the space agency needs to escape from the governmental bureaucracy that has bound her to Low Earth Orbit for the past 45 years.

Unfortunately, the traditionalists at NASA — and their beltway bandit allies — don’t share this view and have feared this moment since the day the Falcon Heavy program was announced seven years ago.

Read more at: The Hill

Airbus and Human Spaceflight: from Spacelab to Orion

Thirty-four years ago, Spacelab was placed in orbit, paving the way for Europe’s human spaceflight programme. It began a legacy of pioneering technology that includes the ATVs, Columbus and the Orion European Service Module.

Spacelab’s launch on 28 November 1983 was the first of 22 Spacelab missions involving cutting-edge scientific experiments in fields such as new materials, processing of pharmaceutical products and astronomical observation. An industrial consortium headed by MBB-Erno, one of the predecessors of Airbus built this Europe’s first space laboratory.

Read more at: Airbus

Singapore Takes Next Step Towards Implementing World’s First Space-based VHF Communications

GomSpace together with The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Singapore Technologies Electronics Limited (ST Electronics) signed a research collaboration agreement on the sidelines of the Singapore Airshow this week, to conduct a design study on the implementation of space-based Very High Frequency (VHF) communications for air traffic management (ATM) in the Singapore Flight Information Region (FIR). This agreement follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by the three parties in July 2017 to explore the application and deployment of the space-based system.

The space-based VHF communications system involves the mounting of VHF communications equipment onto a constellation of small low-earth-orbit satellites to enable clear and real-time communications between air traffic controllers and pilots over oceanic airspace.

Read more at: Space Daily

Playing 20 Questions with Bacteria to Distinguish Harmless Organisms from Pathogens

Bacteria underpins much of our world, acting behind the scenes to affect the health and behavior of animals and plants. They help produce food, provide oxygen, and even reshape the environment through a vast array of biological processes.

They come in a phenomenal number of strains-many still unknown-and thrive in different ecological and environmental niches all over the world. But while their diverse behaviors makes them essential to life, bacteria can also be deadly. This threat only grows as greater global travel brings people into contact with new places, foods, and animals, dramatically increasing the chances of exposure to dangerous microbial species known as pathogens.

Read more at: Terra Daily

Improve European Defence with New Commercial Space Capabilities

Flexible and continuous connectivity, especially in contested environments, is a critical priority for defence forces around the world. No nation in Europe can go it alone, so secure, interoperable communications networks are mandatory considering today’s geopolitical realities.

For these reasons, on 13 November 2017 ministers from 23 member states signed a joint notification on the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). The goal of PESCO is to better coordinate policy objectives and pool military capabilities for the greatest possible amount of deterrence. NATO has also made public statements regarding better allied collaboration for ensuring the interoperability of satellite communications.

Read more at: Spacewar

France to Spend 37 bn Euros on Upgrading Nuclear Arsenal

France is planning a 37-billion-euro revamp of its nuclear arsenal over the next seven years, part of a sharp increase in defence spending aimed at allowing France to “hold its own” as a key power in Europe, the country’s defence chief said Thursday.

The upgrades to France’s land- and sea-based nuclear deterrent will be part of the nearly 300 billion euros ($370 billion) to be spent by 2025. That would take the defence budget to the NATO target of 2 percent of GDP, compared with about 1.8 percent currently.

Read more at: Space Daily

Independent Ukraine’s First Astronaut in Space, Leonid Kadenyuk, 67

Leonid Kadenyuk, a former military pilot who became the first and only Ukrainian astronaut to fly on a U.S. spacecraft, died in Kyiv on January 31. He was 67. According to various media reports, he suddenly took ill while jogging, as was his usual routine, in a park in the Ukrainian capital.

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman wrote on Facebook: “Leonid Kadenyuk has died. A truly legendary man. My condolences to his relatives and friends.”

It was on November 19, 1997, that Col. Kadenyuk became independent Ukraine’s first astronaut in space. The 46-year-old Col. Kadenyuk traveled aboard the Columbia space shuttle for 15 days as a payload specialist and conducted a series of science experiments called the Collaborative Ukrainian Experiments that studied the effects of microgravity on plant growth.

Read more at: ukrweekly

How Photos of Earth from Space Changed Humans’ View of their Life on the Planet

Beware, flat-earthers. Christopher Potter has mounted a powerful assault on your most cherished belief.

In 1948, British astrophysicist Fred Hoyle made an intriguing prediction: “Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from the outside, is available . . . a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.” With “The Earth Gazers,” his beautifully written overview of our voyage into the heavens, Potter shows us how that cosmic forecast played out. Photographs from space not only allowed us to see the entire planetary sphere suspended like a blue Eden amid a black void, they also informed us that the human species is “intimately connected, even embedded in its home. The more distant our perspective,” writes the author, “seemingly the more intimate.”

Read more at: Washington Post

Quality Assurance for Space Projects

26 – 29 June 2018 – Athlone, Ireland

The course is designed to provide the participant with an understanding of basic principles of Quality Management, Quality Assurance and Quality Control, as they are usually applied to space projects. You will find the full description of the course in the IAASS Professional Training Courses Catalog (download from the right bar on this page). Please register for attendance at the course by sending a completed Space Quality Assurance June 2018 – Booking Form to Catherine Lenehan by e-mail: [email protected]

Read more at: IAASS