Boeing CST-100 Starliner Parachute System Test Launch Lifts Off Successfully From Spaceport America in New Mexico

Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport located in southern New Mexico in the USA, announced today a successful Boeing CST-100 Starliner Parachute System Test Launch from Spaceport America’s horizontal launch complex.

In collaboration with teams from Boeing and White Sands Missile Range, a giant helium-filled balloon lifted off from Spaceport America in New Mexico, carrying a flight-sized boilerplate Starliner spacecraft up to about 40,000 feet where it floated across the San Andres Mountains for a parachute landing on the other side. The goal was for the spacecraft to reach the same velocity it would experience during a return from space and for the parachutes to deploy as planned.

Read more at: Spaceport America

Long March-7 Y2 Ready for Launch of China’s First Cargo Spacecraft

A Long March-7 Y2 carrier rocket arrived at a launch center in south China on Saturday in preparation for the launch of China’s first cargo spacecraft next month. After about a week of ocean and rail transport, the carrier rocket arrived at Wenchang, Hainan, where it will undergo assembly and testing prior to the April launch of China’s first cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-1, said China’s manned space engineering office.

Tianzhou-1 is expected to dock with the orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab three times and conduct propellent refueling in orbit as well as other space experiments before falling back to earth. Tiangong-2 will remain in orbit and continue its experiments.

The Long March-7 Y2 is a medium-sized rocket that can carry up to 13.5 tonnes to low-Earth orbit. It is able to carry cargo spacecraft and man-made satellites. It made its maiden flight in June 2016.

Read more at: Xinhuanet

Rocket Issue Delays Orbital ATK’s Next Cargo Launch for NASA

The launch of an Orbital ATK cargo ship to deliver nearly 4 tons of NASA to the International Space Station this month has been delayed by at least two days due to a rocket glitch.

The robotic Cygnus cargo ship, which was previously scheduled to launch March 19 from a pad at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, will now lift off no earlier than March 21 at 10:56 p.m. EDT (0256 GMT), according to a NASA statement released Friday (March 10). The space agency cited a technical issue with the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket that will launch the Cygnus as the delay’s cause.

Read more at: Space.com

Life on Earth is Used to Gravity – So What Happens to Our Cells and Tissues in Space?

There’s one force whose effects are so deeply entrenched in our everyday lives that we probably don’t think much about it at all: gravity. Gravity is the force that causes attraction between masses. It’s why when you drop a pen, it falls to the ground. But because gravitational force is proportional to the mass of the object, only large objects like planets create tangible attractions. This is why the study of gravity traditionally focused on massive objects like planets.

Our first manned space missions, however, completely changed how we thought about gravity’s effects on biological systems. The force of gravity doesn’t just keep us anchored to the ground; it influences how our bodies work on the smallest of scales. Now with the prospect of longer space missions, researchers are working to figure out what a lack of gravity means for our physiology – and how to make up for it.

Read more at: Conversation

SpaceX will Launch its First Reused Rocket Later This Month

Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. plans to launch a reused rocket for the first time in the coming weeks, a key step in bringing down space-travel costs for customers and future missions.

SpaceX will take to the skies with a reusable rocket before the end of this month, Gwynne Shotwell, the company’s president and chief operating officer, said on a panel at Satellite 2017, an industry conference in Washington.

“SpaceX has been working on reusability since the get go,” Shotwell said Wednesday. “In order to make that work, you need to inspect it and make sure it is ready to fly again. Once we get really good at that, there will be downward pressure on price.”

Read more at: Bloomberg

Billionaire Paul Allen Hopes his ‘Ginormous’ Stratolaunch Plane will Fly This Year

The world’s biggest airplane is staying on track to take to the air for the first time by the end of this year, according to Paul Allen, who made billions of dollars as Microsoft’s co-founder and is now spending millions of dollars on the Stratolaunch air-launch system.

Allen provided an update on Stratolaunch and dropped hints about future space endeavors today during an interview at the University of Washington’s Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering, where professors, students and VIPs celebrated Allen’s $40 million gift to UW’s 50-year-old computer science program,

Most of the interview was devoted to Allen’s reflections on how computer technology has changed since he and his high-school friends took advantage of the UW’s computer lab on the sly in 1971. But the billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist also was clear about his commitment to the Stratolaunch project, which was unveiled back in 2011.

Read more at: Geekwire

China Seeks Space Rockets Launched from Airplanes

The Chinese Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology is breaking ground on techniques to send satellites into space via rockets shot from airborne Chinese planes, China Daily reports.

According to Li Tongyu, chief of rocket development at the academy, the technology will allow scientists and engineers to quickly replace “dysfunctional” satellites, as well as launch ad hoc, last-minute satellites into orbit, as part of disaster-relief efforts.

“The Y-20 strategic transport plane will be the carrier of these rockets,” Li says. At a certain altitude the plane releases a rocket from its fuselage, which is then ignited after leaving the aircraft, said Li, adding that the group currently has a shovel-ready model that can send a 220 lb payload into orbit. The group will next work on a rocket capable of launching 450 lb payloads into orbit. Larger satellites will have to rely on conventional rocket technologies, he added.

Read more at: Space Daily

Google Patent Filing Hints at How SpaceX’s Satellite Broadband Network could Work

When it comes to providing global broadband internet coverage, two satellite constellations in low Earth orbit are better than one. At least that’s the implication of a patent application filed by an inventor who used to work at Google and is now part of SpaceX’s Seattle-area satellite operation.

Mark Krebs’ concept is described in an application that was filed last September, published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in January, and picked up this week by PatentYogi’s Deepak Gupta. It calls for setting up two sets of satellites orbiting at different altitudes with different inclinations.

The scheme brings a couple of advantages: It eases the way for putting up thousands of satellites in orbits that cross over each other without having to worry about the threat of collision. The orbital arrangement also makes it easier to provide overlapping coverage for customers down below. That allows for a smooth handoff from one satellite to another, and provides more of a backup in case a single satellite goes offline.

Read more at: Geekwire

Keeping Liquids Off the Wall in Space

On Earth, liquid flows downhill thanks to gravity. Creating an effective liquid fuel tank involves little more than putting a hole at the bottom of a container.

That won’t work in space, though. In microgravity, with no gravity to force liquids to the bottom of a container, they cling to its surfaces instead. Spacecraft employ special devices such as vanes, sponges, screens, and channels to guide a liquid where it is needed – to an engine in the case of fuel or propellant.

The Slosh Coating investigation tests using a liquid-repellant coating inside a container to control the movement of liquids in microgravity. Researchers will compare the behavior of liquid in two tanks, one with the coating and one without, aboard the International Space Station. For this test, the clear tanks contain colored water. High definition cameras will record the motion of the water as the containers are put through a series of maneuvers.

Read more at: Spaceref

Why Virgin Orbit’s New President isn’t Worried About a Bubble in the Small Satellite Market

It seems like everyone wants their own swarm of small satellites. SpaceX, OneWeb, Boeing Co. and other companies have proposed putting constellations of small satellites in low-Earth orbit that could provide greater Internet access in previously hard-to-reach areas of the globe.

Thanks to technological advances, the costs of developing and launching satellites have fallen to the point where even some schools can afford to send their own science missions into space.

The small-satellite boom has sparked development of new launch methods as well. Earlier this month, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space tourism company spun off its small-satellite launching business, Virgin Orbit. Virgin Orbit is developing LauncherOne, a rocket that will drop from the wing of a modified 747 and carry satellites into space.

Read more at: LA Times

Report: China Developing Advanced Lunar Mission Spaceship

China is developing an advanced new spaceship capable of both flying in low-Earth orbit and landing on the moon, according to state media, in another bold step for a space program that equaled the U.S. in number of rocket launches last year.

The newspaper Science and Technology Daily cited spaceship engineer Zhang Bainian as saying the new craft would be recoverable and have room for multiple astronauts. While no other details were given in the Tuesday report, Zhang raised as a comparison the Orion spacecraft being developed by NASA and the European Space Agency. The agency hopes Orion will carry astronauts into space by 2023.

China’s Shenzhou space capsule used on all six of its crewed missions is based on Russia’s Soyuz and is capable of carrying three astronauts in its re-entry module.

Read more at: ABC News

Menlo Park: Firm Aims to Protect Space Tourists

A plan to protect commercial satellites in low Earth orbit from space debris spawned at a Menlo Park research facility has received a $4 million investment boost.

LeoLabs, a company spun out of radar research conducted over a number of years at SRI International in Menlo Park as it investigated the Earth’s ionosphere, on Feb. 28 announced it had closed the $4 million funding round backed by a number of global investors, including SRI, Hong Kong-based Horizons Ventures and Airbus Ventures, which has offices in San Jose and Paris. LeoLabs CEO and founder Daniel Ceperley is SRI’s former program director.

The money boost should be good news for future space tourists, something that Ceperley hints at in a news release. On Feb. 27, SpaceX announced it plans to fly two space tourists on a trip around the moon in 2018. “What we are witnessing is the birth of the LEO (low Earth orbit) ecosystem and the rise of a LEO economy, ranging from real time imaging to communications to space tourism,” Ceperley said in a news release. “To ensure operations, this ecosystem needs to be securely managed.”

Read more at: Mercury News

Time for Defense Department to Relinquish Reigns on SSA, Pentagon Expert Says

The ever growing number of satellites means a new organization is needed to catalog and track objects in orbit for the commercial space sector, experts said March 7. “At some point the space community needs to say ‘we better get our arms around this management problem before people start running into each other,’ because that really ought to be chilling,” said John Hill, principal director of space policy for the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.

Speaking at the Satellite 2017 conference here, Hill said the Pentagon wants a partner in space traffic management. “Whether it is a civil regulatory agency’s mission, whether it is an industry consortium that sets it up, we’re kind of agnostic about it in the Defense Department. We would say it does need to happen,” he said.

Space situational awareness has become a “collateral duty” of the DoD, an outgrowth of its space missions, Hill said. And while the department does benefit greatly from the capability, it’s time for someone else to take the lead on technology development and management.

Read more at: Space News

Sierra Nevada to Resume Dream Chaser Flight Tests

An atmospheric test model of Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser space plane is being readied for tow and landing tests at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California this spring.

The partially-assembled test craft arrived at the California test site, located on Edwards Air Force Base, on Jan. 25. Technicians are adding the ship’s V-shaped tail fins and other equipment before kicking off ground and flight tests in the coming months, according to Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of Sierra Nevada’s space systems division.

“We’ll do a series of ground tests,” Sirangelo said in a recent interview. “That will include towing the vehicle down the runway, and that allows us to see how it stops and how it moves, but it also allows us to test all the sensors on the vehicle because we can get it up to a high enough speed where that will happen.”

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Blue Origin’s New Engine isn’t Good Enough for Some Congressmen

In 2014, the rocket company United Launch Alliance (ULA) entered into an agreement with Blue Origin to jointly fund development of the latter company’s BE-4 rocket engine. While ULA didn’t commit to using the Blue Origin engine in its next-generation booster, its “significant” investment signaled it was enthused about the innovative rocket engine. However some members of Congress have been pushing ULA to use a different engine, the AR1, being developed by Aerojet Rocketdyne.

At the end of February, two US representatives, Mike Rogers of Alabama and Mac Thornberry of Texas, decided to push a little harder. On February 28, they sent a letter to Lisa Disbrow, the acting secretary of the US Air Force, and James MacStravic, who is performing the duties of the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics. In addition to reiterating a desire that ULA continue to fly a second rocket, the Delta IV Heavy, the letter urges the Pentagon officials to be skeptical about the BE-4 engine.

Read more at: Ars Technica

Private Space Stations Could Orbit the Moon by 2020, Robert Bigelow Says

Giant space-station refueling depots could be orbiting the moon by 2020, but only if the Trump administration makes the funding and national drive needed for it to happen a priority, according to aerospace entrepreneur Robert Bigelow.

Bigelow, whose company, Bigelow Aerospace, has launched three private space-habitat prototypes into orbit — including the first inflatable space-station module, said that a commercial station in lunar orbit would be a vital destination for moon exploration.

“The key is going to be how fast the Trump administration can react,” Bigelow said in an interview Friday (March 3). The administration would have to move quickly “to energize funds and to galvanize the private sector” to make a lunar depot by end of 2020 possible, he added.

Read more at: Space.com

Space Matter: Landing on Mars

I’ve discussed our trip to Mars, why we’re planning on going there—as opposed to Venus—and how we’re planning on getting there. But believe it or not, getting to Mars is relatively easy, given current technology. The rockets that will allow us to do it are already in their late stages of development. The crew capsules are also being developed. Orion, the craft NASA is building to eventually get us to the red planet, had its first unmanned test flight back in 2014. SpaceX is discussing sending its craft, Crew Dragon, around the moon (with two private citizens on board) at the end of 2018. We’re pretty reasonably certain we can get to Mars.

But how do we land on it? You might think, well, we landed astronauts on the moon. Mars should be just as easy!

When we went to the moon, we took a separate craft, made only to operate in space and on the moon, the lunar module (LM). It was never intended to function within Earth’s gravity. It’s likely we’d do something similar for Mars. The fact is, we don’t want to take something designed to function within Earth’s atmosphere to the surface of a planet with much thinner atmosphere because of weight. When you’re heading to the Moon or Mars, you’re going very fast. You have to slow down enough between when you enter the atmosphere and when you land such that you don’t crash into the surface.

Read more at: Paste Magazine

NASA Moving Ahead with Plans for Cislunar Human Outpost

Despite uncertainty about potential policy changes, NASA is pressing ahead with plans for a cislunar “gateway” outpost for future human missions, with decisions about how to develop it expected in the coming months.

Speaking at the American Astronautical Society’s Goddard Memorial Symposium here March 8, Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said he was studying concepts for launching the first elements of the proposed outpost as secondary payloads on early flights of the Space Launch System.

“There’s starting to be a sense of urgency” about selecting what to fly on those initial SLS missions to support development of the cislunar outpost, he said. “We’ve really got to start making some decisions about what that cargo is.”

Read more at: Space News

Japanese Construction Companies Hitch their Fortunes to the Stars

With an eye to profiting from humankind’s final frontier, Japanese construction giants are developing ambitious space technologies to supplant the Olympic building boom. And some of their projects are simply out of this world.

In February, an odd looking device was seen rolling around a highway construction site on Japan’s southwestern island of Shikoku, stopping regularly to examine soil hardness. The machine was actually an autonomous rover, the product of a collaboration between Takenaka, one of the nation’s largest contractors, its subsidiary Takenaka Civil Engineering & Construction and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Designed for exploring the moon and Mars, it is currently being tested to see if it can collect samples for space-based engineering and construction projects.

Read more at: Asia Nikkei

Blue Origin to Launch EUTELSAT Satellite on New Glenn Rocket

French-based satellite provider Eutelsat Communications announced on March 7, 2017, at the Satellite 2017 Convention in Washington, D.C., that it had signed a contract with Blue Origin for a launch on the New Glenn rocket, which is expected to begin flights in 2020. 

The contract with Blue Origin is for the launch of a geostationary satellite sometime between 2021 and 2022. The New Glenn booster is expected to be compatible with virtually all Eutelsat spacecraft, providing flexibility to allocate the mission 12 months ahead of launch.

“Blue Origin has been forthcoming with Eutelsat on its strategy and convinced us they have the right mindset to compete in the launch service industry,” said Rodolphe Belmer, Eutelsat CEO. “Their solid engineering approach, and their policy to develop technologies that will form the base of a broad generation of launchers, corresponds to what we expect from our industrial partners. In including New Glenn in our manifest we are pursuing our longstanding strategy of innovation that drives down the cost of access to space and drives up performance. This can only be good news for the profitability and sustainability of our industry.”

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

In a Change of Attitude, NASA Appears to Embrace Private Rockets

On Wednesday, NASA’s chief of human spaceflight, William Gerstenmaier, flashed an interesting slide during a presentation that showed 23 different rockets, from the small Orbital ATK Antares and Russian Soyuz boosters all the way to SpaceX’s massive Interplanetary Transport System. Some of the boosters, such as the Soyuz, have flown often. Many, like the massive SpaceX ITS vehicle, remain PowerPoint rockets.

What was notable, however, was not the chart but what Gerstenmaier said. “My point of this chart is this is a great way to be,” he told his audience at the Goddard Memorial Symposium in Maryland. “And I’m not picking any one of these, I love every one of these rockets. We will figure out some way to use some subset of these as they mature through the industry and come out the other side.”

Read more at: Ars Technica

Space Data Assn., AGI Working to Improve Commercial Space Traffic Center

The Space Data Association and Analytical Graphics, Inc. hope their partnership will be the next step in improving commercial space situational awareness capabilities. The organizations announced March 6 they reached an agreement to launch an updated Space Data Center Space Traffic Management service that will provide satellite tracking, radio frequency spectrum management, and conjunction warning services to companies.

Dubbed SDC 2.0, it will build upon the first iteration of the center, Mark Rawlins, SDA chairman, told SpaceNews. “We put into place in 2012 the last system of the Space Data Center,” he said, speaking March 9 at the Satellite 2017 conference here. “That’s allowed us to learn, to learn where we need to do more, it’s pointed to problems that we’ve got in our processes as satellite operators and it enables us to identify a set of parameters we realized were missing in the original system.”

Two years ago, the organization began a review to see how it could grow its SSA capabilities. One of the key takeaways was to create an independent database for satellite tracking that relies less on information provided from the companies themselves.

Read more at: Space News

Bezos Aims Rocket Maker’s Ferocity at Tourism to Cut Space Costs

The motto at billionaire Jeff Bezos’s rocket company is “gradatim ferociter,” Latin for “step by step, ferociously.” The Amazon.com founder sees applying that intensity toward making space travel more like hopping on an airplane.

A week after his rocket rival Elon Musk revealed plans to send two unidentified people on a trip around the moon late next year, Bezos said Tuesday his Blue Origin LLC has flown its New Shepard capsule and booster more than 100 kilometers into the air five times. He sees flying thrill-seeking tourists on such missions — to the edge of space and back — bringing down costs much in the way modern-day trips on planes were made possible by stunt pilots who took trips with people in the 1920s.

Read more at: Bloomberg

Exploring Private Space Travel

So far it’s been an eventful year for both NASA and SpaceX, the private space exploration company founded by Elon Musk. With the recent planetary discoveries, the potential change in the Hubble constant, and now SpaceX’s announcement of private space travel, there’s a lot to look forward to.

SpaceX is promoting privately funded space travel, and we think this may be our best bet to literally reach the stars. Space is expensive. Therefore, we cannot rely on just the government to get our astronauts or plain space lovers into the cosmos. By funding these programs privately, we will get more work done.

When SpaceX announced its plan to send two people on a moon tour, the Indiana Daily Student asked 
professor Constantine 
Deliyannis what he thought about these plans. Deliyannis teaches in the astronomy and physics department at IU. Deliyannis said he loved that NASA and SpaceX were working together to get more work done than they would accomplish separately.

Read more at: IdsNews

When We Explore Space, We Go Together

The next NASA rover to Mars will launch in 2020. It will be built in the United States, and it will measure wind with a tool from Spain, study rock chemistry with an instrument partially built by the French, and examine the subsurface with a sounder from Finland. This kind of international mashup is actually fairly typical for space missions, which are typically composed of scientists and instruments from countries all over the world.

Partnerships with international space agencies have always been key to NASA’s success. (Little-known fact: The first flag deployed on the moon was that of Switzerland, as part of a solar wind experiment with Apollo 11.) When you are exploring space, going it alone has never been, and will never be, an option.

Read more at: Slate

Blue Origin Releases Animation of its Future Orbital Rocket, and it Looks Really Familiar

This morning, Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos revealed some new details about his company’s future orbital rocket, the New Glenn — touting the vehicle’s reusability and how much it will be able to carry into space. He also showed off a shiny new animation of what the reusable rocket’s journey will look like during a typical mission, and it certainly looks familiar.

The main portion of the New Glenn will be powered by seven of Blue Origin’s BE-4 enginesand is designed to land back on Earth after launching into space. In the video, which Bezos released at a satellite developer’s conference in Washington, DC, the New Glenn takes off from Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Blue Origin’s finished manufacturing facility, which is currently being built at the Cape, can be seen in the foreground as the rocket shoots toward the sky.

Read more at: Verge

Congress has Told NASA What it Wants Space Agency to do

With a House of Representatives vote this week, Congress has now told NASA what it wants the space agency to do in future. But it’s still a mystery what President Trump wants and how much money the space agency will get to do the job.

Did Tuesday night’s House vote approving the NASA Authorization Act of 2017 really clarify anything, then? The same bill that cleared the House by voice vote cleared the Senate by unanimous consent on Feb. 17. It sets policy for NASA and recommends $19.5 billion in funding for fiscal year 2018.

The authorization isn’t as important as the “appropriated” budget, because authorizers don’t have control of funds. Appropriations committees do. But the authorization measure is a good clue to congressional thinking.

Read more at: Al.com

Bridenstine Argues for FAA/AST Funding Increase, Gets Endorsement for NASA Administrator

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) testified before a House Appropriations subcommittee today making the case for a funding increase for FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA/AST).   He won praise from subcommittee members and one, who also happens to chair the subcommittee that funds NASA, endorsed Bridenstine to serve as the next NASA Administrator.  Bridenstine is said to be one of the top candidates, although the White House has not nominated anyone for that position yet.

Bridenstine is a leading member of Congress on space policy issues across the civil, commercial and national security sectors.  He introduced the American Space Renaissance Act last year and plans to reintroduce it this year.  He describes it as a bill that is not expected to pass en toto, but instead serve as a repository of provisions that can be inserted into various pieces of legislation as appropriate.  Ten of the provisions of last year’s bill were incorporated in the FY2017 national Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Read more at: Spacepolicy Online

Senate Panel Backs Bill to Keep Some Spaceport Business Dealings Secret

Spaceport America, which has generated plenty of controversy because of the tax subsidies it receives, now says its success depends on less public scrutiny. The Senate Public Affairs Committee obliged Friday, backing a bill to exclude many spaceport business dealings from the state’s public records law. Its members voted 5-2 to allow the spaceport to withhold information about clients in the space business.

Sens. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, and Liz Stefanics, D-Cerrillos, dissented. Senate Bill 429 heads next to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The spaceport’s executives say confidentiality is key to attracting business in the fiercely competitive industry of space flights for the wealthy and other ventures in aeronautics.

But Steinborn, Stefanics and transparency advocates say the bill would block from public view parts of a project that critics have lambasted as a boondoggle.

Read more at: Santafe Newmexican

Kuwait Space Agency – a Pipedream or Reality

“That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” With these few words, American astronaut Neil Armstrong – the first man to set foot on the moon in 1969 – sparked humanity’s dream in conquering the final frontier – space. A number of Kuwaitis have started to wonder whether it was feasible to have a national space program and they dared to contemplate the possibility of turning this pipedream into a reality.

This renewed interest stemmed from the UAE’s attempts to actualize its dream in an efficient regional space program through the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) that was founded in 2006 and the UAE Space Agency, established in 2014. The Emirates is planning to send an unmanned orbiter to Mars by 2021.

Read more at: Space Daily

International Airlines Group (IAG) Signs Contract to be Launch Customer of Inmarsat’s European Aviation Network

Inmarsat (ISAT.L), the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, today announced International Airlines Group (IAG) as the launch customer for its European Aviation Network (EAN) high-speed in-flight broadband service, which Inmarsat will jointly operate with its partner Deutsche Telekom. This contract is a flagship achievement in Inmarsat’s strategy to revolutionise the onboard experience for airline passengers with purpose-built next-generation connectivity solutions.

EAN allows European passengers to use their personal devices for internet browsing, video streaming, gaming and other online services, with unmatched high capacity, low-latency performance. EAN’s robust and ultra compact technology makes it uniquely qualified for the European airspace, where aircraft size, flight density and frequent aircraft manoeuvring are challenging to broadband satellite-only systems.

EAN is the first solution in the world to integrate connectivity from a satellite, operated by Inmarsat, and a complementary LTE-based ground network, operated by Deutsche Telekom.

Read more at: Spaceref

‘Change in Velocity’: Remembering Deke Slayton’s Unrealized Mercury Mission (Part 1)

Fifty-five years ago, America was a nation in euphoria. Astronaut John Glenn returned triumphantly to Earth on 20 February 1962, after orbiting Earth three times in his Mercury capsule—named “Friendship 7”—and further flights were on the horizon. In April 1962, fellow astronaut Donald “Deke” Slayton would repeat Glenn’s accomplishment, spending almost five hours in space. Although his mission would not perform any significantly “new” tasks, Slayton was excited as the opportunity to become the United States’ fourth spacefarer drew closer. Yet 55 years ago, this coming week, Slayton’s excitement evaporated, when a medical problem which he and others deemed a minor irritant returned to bite him. Little could he have known, but March 1962 would not only change his life, but also the future of America’s space program.

In keeping with the tradition of the “Mercury Seven”—which, in addition to Slayton and Glenn, also included Al Shepard, Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Scott Carpenter, Wally Schirra and Gordo Cooper as NASA’s first class of astronauts—the mission name was suffixed by default with the numeral “7”. Since it was also the fourth manned Mercury mission, Slayton opted to call it “Delta 7”. In his autobiography, Deke, he explained that the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet also represented “a nice engineering term that described a change in velocity”. Unfortunately for the 38-year-old Slayton, his own velocity in high-performance jets and spacecraft changed markedly, thanks to a minor, yet persistent heart conditions, known as “idiopathic atrial fibrillation”.

Read more at: America Space

How Barack Obama Ruined NASA Space Exploration

One of the tasks that President Donald Trump has before him, along with revamping immigration and trade, repealing and replacing ObamaCare, and rebuilding the military, is restoring America’s space exploration program to its former glory. Press reports suggest that the administration is looking at an early return to the moon, using commercial partnerships.

To understand the task that the president and whomever he chooses as NASA administrator have before them, it is useful to look back on how profoundly and adroitly President Barack Obama crippled the space agency’s efforts to send astronauts beyond low Earth orbit. When Obama came into office, he did what a number of other presidents have done to determine their goals for NASA: he formed a presidential commission to study the space agency and come up with some recommendations.

Read more at: The Hill

Explore the International Space Station in VR Right Now

Mission: ISS — a virtual reality collaboration between Oculus and three space agencies — is now available for free to Oculus Rift and Touch owners. The experience is a detailed recreation of the International Space Station where participants can do things like dock cargo capsules, conduct spacewalks, and “perform mission-critical tasks” just like real astronauts. It was designed by visual effects studio Magnopus in partnership with NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency, based on NASA space station models and conversations with astronauts.

When Mission: ISS was announced last year, Oculus head of content Jason Rubin said it was the same simulation NASA astronauts have been using to train ahead of their trip to space. This is hardly NASA’s first work with virtual reality

Read more at: Verge

Space Debris: Risk Analysis & Mitigation

5-6 April 2017 – Toulouse, France

The course is designed to provide the participant with an understanding of space debris risks and of mitigation standards, techniques and practices that are used for design and operation of space systems. You will find the description of the course in the IAASS Professional Training Courses Catalog 2017 – Course Code 008. To register, download the Registration Form, fill in and return to:[email protected] not later than 6 March 2017.

Read more at: IAASS