The FCC’s Big Problem with Small Satellites

When officials at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) denied launch authorization for four innovative satellites from startup Swarm Technologies last December, the agency was unequivocal as to the reason. “The applicant proposes to deploy and operate four spacecraft that are smaller than 10 centimeters in one of their three dimensions,” read a letter to Swarm’s CEO and founder Sara Spangelo. “These spacecraft are therefore below the size threshold at which detection by the Space Surveillance Network can be considered routine.”

The FCC was worried about collisions in space, where even the smallest objects traveling at orbital velocities can inflict massive damage on satellites or, in a worst-case scenario, manned spacecraft. It thought Swarm’s SpaceBees satellites, measuring 10 by 10 by 2.5 cm, would be just too small to track.

Read more at: IEEE Spectrum

Investigation into Zuma Failure Reportedly Lays Blame on Northrop Grumman

Government investigators have exonerated SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket in the loss of a top secret space mission known as Zuma in January, blaming a malfunction in a component modified by Northrop Grumman that connected the launcher with its classified payload, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Citing unnamed sources, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that two teams of government and industry investigators have concluded that a payload adapter — a structure used to attach a satellite to its rocket booster — failed to function correctly after an otherwise successful launch from Cape Canaveral on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Jan. 7.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Bright Fireball Over Europe, Sonic Boom Reported, Meteorites Possible

A bright green fireball was observed and captured on camera as it streaked over Hungary and Croatia at 18:49 UTC (20:49 CET) on April 8, 2018. The event lasted about 5 seconds and was followed by sonic booms.

The International Meteor Organization (IMO), received 25 reports by 10:00 UTC, April 9 from people as far west as southern Germany. According to reports, the event was associated with sonic booms suggesting the meteor penetrated deep into the atmosphere, Severe Weather Europe said. Due to the brightness and long duration of the event, pieces of this object may have landed somewhere in far northern Croatia.

Read more at: Watchers

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Appointees to Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee

U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Elaine L. Chao today announced key additions to the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC).

“America continues to lead the way in cutting-edge space transportation technologies. I’m pleased to welcome this distinguished group to the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee and thank those members who are continuing their service,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

COMSTAC provides information, advice, and recommendations to the FAA Administrator on all matters relating to U.S. commercial space transportation industry activities. The committee provides a forum for the development and communication of information from an independent perspective.

Read more at: Transportation.gov

Stratolaunch Carrier, World’s Largest Plane, is Bigger than a Football Field and will Launch Astronauts into Space

Read more at: space.news

SpaceX Makes Progress Toward Commercial Crew Debut

In a year that should see both SpaceX and Boeing conduct the uncrewed test flights of their respective crew launch vehicles, Space Exploration Technologies, SpaceX, is making good progress toward its commercial crew goals.  With specific launch target dates to be reevaluated next month at a standard quarterly review, SpaceX is currently aiming to conduct their uncrewed demo flight test of Crew Dragon followed by an in-flight abort test before the all-important crew flight test in the second half of this year.

While the specific target dates for SpaceX’s three main Commercial Crew events are still under review and will be reevaluated in May at a standard quarterly evaluation with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, SpaceX is currently targeting August for their uncrewed flight test of the crew Dragon vehicle, a test flight known as Demo Mission 1 (DM-1).

Read more at: NASA Spaceflight

SpaceX Asks FAA to Green light Gulf of Mexico Splashdowns

The Federal Aviation Administration released a Draft Environmental Assessment analyzing a SpaceX proposal to conduct splashdowns in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The Gulf of Mexico would serve as a possible splashdown location for Dragon missions originating from the SpaceX South Texas Launch Site (currently under construction) and a contingency landing location for Dragon missions originating from Florida,” the document states.

SpaceX needs a re-entry license for spacecraft descending to Earth from the International Space Station, to which the company delivers supplies. SpaceX hopes to one day deliver and return astronauts from the facility, which orbits the planet. The human component to future missions is one reason that SpaceX is looking for another place, aside from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, to conduct splashdowns.

Read more at: brownsville herald

Anticipating Visitors? The Moon is Set to Receive its Own Mobile Phone Network Next Year

If and when humans do land on the moon to start a colony there, how is everyone going to communicate wirelessly? Here on Earth, people rely on mobile phone networks that are scattered but interconnected all across the planet. A similar system is now going to be built on the moon as well, thanks to an effort that’s going to begin some time in 2019.

The new project, which is being spearheaded by Vodafone and Nokia, will lead to the creation of the very first 4G LTE mobile network on the moonitself. It’s part of a much bigger “Mission to the Moon” that is going to be conducted by the Berlin-based Part Time Scientists (PTScientists), who are planning to launch one lander and two small rovers from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with help from SpaceX. The mission is scheduled to happen during the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission orchestrated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Read more at: Space.news

Solar Eruptions Send Shock Waves Through Space; 3D Models Created by NASA Satellites Map Trajectory

Recently released three-dimensional models of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) give us a much better idea of the process behind these solar eruptions. From the viewpoints of NASA satellites, massive shock waves can be seen rippling out from the Sun, according to an article on Space.com.

CMEs are tremendous expulsions of plasma and charged particles from a star like our Sun. They take place whenever the magnetic field lines around the Sun enter a state of flux. A coronal mass ejection is so powerful that it can kick off geomagnetic storms on Earth. These storms can damage orbiting satellites, disable electrical grids, and affect electronics.

NASA developed its CME models using data from three separate satellites. The models show in graphic detail how solar eruptions generate massive shock waves that ripple through space.

Read more at: Space.news

Flowers on the Moon? China’s Chang’e-4 to Launch Lunar Spring

China’s Chang’e-4 lunar probe is expected to do many things unprecedented in space history after it launches later this year, such as touching down softly on the far side of the Moon and taking the first flowers to blossom on the lifeless lunar surface.

The probe will carry a tin containing seeds of potato and arabidopsis, a small flowering plant related to cabbage and mustard, and probably some silkworm eggs to conduct the first biological experiment on the Moon.

The “lunar mini biosphere” experiment was designed by 28 Chinese universities, led by southwest China’s Chongqing University, a conference on scientific and technological innovation of Chongqing Municipality has heard.

Read more at: Space Daily

FCC Issues Warning in Wake of Swarm’s Unauthorized Launch

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on April 12 released an enforcement advisory warning that organizations will be penalized for launching spacecraft without the appropriate regulatory approvals and advised launch providers they should be ready to remove unauthorized spacecraft from their rockets if necessary.

“Failure to comply with FCC requirements can and will result in enforcement action,” the document states.

The FCC didn’t specify what punishments will be given to companies that forgo licensing. An FCC official told SpaceNews “the enforcement actions might include monetary forfeitures, among other potential actions.” He declined to give further details.

Read more at: Space news

NASA Authorization Bill Increases Emphasis on Commercial Partnerships

A NASA authorization bill to be considered by the House next week would direct NASA to work more closely with commercial partners in areas ranging from Earth observation to deep space exploration.

The NASA Authorization Act of 2018, introduced by Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), chairman of the House space subcommittee, was released April 13. The legislation is scheduled to be marked up by the full House Science Committee on April 17.

The bill authorizes $20.7 billion for NASA in fiscal year 2018, matching what was included for NASA in the omnibus appropriations bill enacted in March. It authorizes an identical amount for fiscal year 2019, although apportioned somewhat differently among NASA’s various programs, including more for exploration systems and planetary science and less for Earth science.

Read more at: Spacenews

Starliner Gets Potential Mission Duration Increase for Crew Flight Test

Boeing, one of NASA’s two Commercial Crew providers, is making excellent progress toward the debut of their Starliner vehicle for both its uncrewed and crewed test flights.  In addition to the two planned certification missions, NASA has announced that Boeing’s Crew Flight Test, a two-week test mission, could now serve as a more operational six-month crew flight to the International Space Station with not two but three crew members.

Officially, Boeing is targeting August 2018 for its Orbital Flight Test (OFT), their uncrewed certification mission for Starliner, to be followed in November 2018 with their Crew Flight Test (CFT). Those dates are based on the last quarterly review by the Commercial Crew Program in February, and there is some indication that those dates are likely to slip at the next quarterly review in May – with the CFT slipping into 2019.

Read more at: NASA Spaceflight

NASA May Fly Humans on the Less Powerful Version of its Deep-space Rocket

NASA may make some big changes to the first couple flights of its future deep-space rocket, the Space Launch System, after getting a recent funding boost from Congress to build a new launch platform. When humans fly on the rocket for the first time in the 2020s, they might ride on a less powerful version of the vehicle than NASA had expected. If the changes move forward, it could scale down the first crewed mission into deep space in more than 45 years.

The SLS has been in development for the last decade, and when complete, it will be NASA’s main rocket for taking astronauts to the Moon and Mars. NASA has long planned to debut the SLS with two crucial test missions. The first flight, called EM-1, will be uncrewed, and it will send the smallest planned version of the rocket on a three-week long trip around the Moon. Three years later, NASA plans to launch a bigger, more powerful version of the rocket around the Moon with a two-person crew — a mission called EM-2.

Read more at: Verge

The Rocket Fuel Rivalry Shaping the Future of Spaceflight

Rocket science, it turns out, is no different from the rest of society. People have divided themselves up into two tribes.

When it comes to space launches, there are two basic options for rocket fuel, solid and liquid. Solid rocket fuel is just that: a thick mixture of fuel and oxidizer that is poured into a rocket booster, cooked to a pencil-eraser consistency, and set on fire during launch. The energy is directed through a nozzle, generating enough thrust to get a rocket aloft. Nuclear weapons in silos and submarines use this tech.

Liquid rocket engines feature tanks of fuel inside the boosters, one for fuel and another for oxidizer. The two substances, chilled to super-low temperatures so they don’t convert to gas, are mixed inside the engine at the time of launch, ignited, and routed through a nozzle. The result is a tongue of hot exhaust and thrust. This is the system that powers SpaceX’s rockets.

Read more at: Popular Mechanics

Boeing Joins $37 Million Investment in British Rocket Firm Reaction Engines

Boeing’s venture capital arm invested outside the U.S. (again), putting funds behind a space company (again).

The U.S. industrial giant joined Rolls-Royce and defense company BAE Systems in a $37.6 million fundraising round for U.K.-based propulsion company Reaction Engines. This is both the second foreign investment and the second space investment for Boeing HorizonX Ventures, which contributed to the $15 million funding round for Australian satellite company Myriota last month. Reaction Engines’ advanced propulsion “could change the future of air and space travel,” according to Boeing HorizonX vice president Steve Nordlund.

Read more at: CNBC

Take it from me: I’m Not Signing Up to Become a Space Tourist Just Yet

Elon Musk’s SpaceX reportedly has two people signed up for a trip around the Moon (although these plans have been delayed slightly), and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has advanced plans to launch space tourists from 2018 for a mere US$250,000 each – hundreds of people have already registered.

Is there anyone reading this who didn’t want to be an astronaut when they were a child? I was especially passionate, but it was back in the days when Australian women weren’t allowed to be military or commercial pilots, and we didn’t have a space program, so that was the end of that.

Read more at: Space Daily

Blue Origin’s Orbital Rocket in the Running to Receive U.S. Military Investment

Blue Origin submitted a proposal late last year in what’s expected to be a four-way competition for U.S. Air Force funding to support development of new orbital-class rockets, a further step taken by the Jeff Bezos-owned company to break into the military launch market, industry officials said.

The proposal, confirmed by two space industry sources, puts Blue Origin up against SpaceX, Orbital ATK and United Launch Alliance, which could use Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine to power its next-generation Vulcan rocket. It also sets up the New Glenn rocket, in development by Blue Origin, to be certified by the Air Force for national security missions.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Secretive X-37B Space Plane Discovered in Orbit after Staying Hidden for 218 Days

It circled the Earth in obscurity for more than half a year, now the semi-secret X-37B OTV 5 space plane has been conclusively identified by amateur satellite observers in a circular orbit around 355 Kilometers in altitude. The orbit’s inclination at 54.5 degrees is much different from previous OTV missions and in part responsible for the craft remaining undiscovered for so long.

X-37B, conducting its fifth orbital flight, lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on September 7, 2017. In the typical secrecy surrounding the Air Force’s X-37B program, the launch was shown until separation of the protective payload fairing and confirmation of successful orbital insertion was provided a short time later but operational aspects of the mission like the craft’s operating orbit, intended mission duration and specifics on the payloads it carries were not disclosed.

Read more at: Spaceflight 101

Flight Research, Inc. Introduces New Spaceflight Training Program

Flight Research, Inc., a leading provider of Flight Test Support, Aircraft Maintenance and Advanced Flight Training, today announced the release of a new Human Spaceflight Training Program which is formally recognized by NASA. The training program, developed with NASA Shuttle Commander and Astronaut expertise, is for space tourists seeking to maximize their experience in space. In conjunction with the Human Spaceflight Training course, the program includes a Professional Spaceflight Training course for professionals entering the spaceflight industry as crew or other support personnel. Features of the course include a brief history, awareness of public safety requirements, technical and environmental, and physiological factors of human spaceflight, G-Force awareness and simulation, and how to move in microgravity. The Course features classroom lectures from former astronaut instructors as well as real world experience in select aircraft from the Flight Research fleet of forty training aircraft.

Read more at: Global newswire

NASA Selects New Technologies for Flight Tests for Future Space Exploration

Through NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Flight Opportunities program, six promising space technologies have been selected to be tested on commercial low-gravity-simulating aircraft and suborbital rockets. The opportunity to fly on these vehicles helps advance technologies closer to practical use by taking them from a laboratory environment to the real world.

“The selected institutions will be able to demonstrate their technologies that are of interest to NASA in a much more realistic environment than what can be done using ground-based simulation facilities,” said Stephan Ord, the program technology manager for NASA’s Flight Opportunities program. “This program is a valuable platform for NASA to mature cutting-edge technologies that have the potential of supporting future exploration and agency mission needs.”

Two topics were included in this call for research. Under the first topic, which requested demonstration of space technology payloads, NASA selected five proposals

Read more at: Phys.org

Newest NASA Spacesuit Uses Revamped Apollo-era “Waste Disposal Systems” – Astronauts can Stay in them for a Week

In a throwback to the past, NASA is developing a new spacesuit with a built-in toilet. The last such waste disposal system served the Apollo astronauts, and the new one is expected to improve on that ancestral 1970s system, reported a LiveScience article.

The Orion Crew Survival Systems Suits (OCSSS) are the next-generation spacesuits for the astronauts aboard Orion, the new U.S. manned spacecraft intended to return humans to the Moon. While it looks like a modernized Apollo spacecraft, Orion shares some features with the retired Space Shuttle, such as a toilet.

But NASA is preparing for worst case scenarios that make the infamous Apollo 13 look like a cakewalk. Astronauts might be forced to stay in their suits for days on end.

Read more at: Space.news

NASA Sends Human Sperm to the International Space Station

Last week, SpaceX launched CRS-14, a Dragon resupply capsule bound for the International Space Station carrying 5,800 pounds worth of tools, food, equipment and science experiments. Tucked somewhere among the hardware, reports Rae Paoletta at Inverse, was some frozen human and bull sperm. No, it’s not an April Fool’s prank—the crew will thaw the sperm to investigate how it acts in zero gravity conditions.

According to a NASA press release, the experiment is called Micro-11 and its aim is twofold. First, it’s designed to investigate how well those little swimmers do in microgravity in order to understand whether human reproduction can occur in outer space. Second, studying the movement of sperm without the interference of gravity could reveal processes that we just can’t see on Earth.

Read more at: Smithsonian

Space Becomes a New Frontier for Business Activities

Private industrial involvement in designing, building and operating space assets isn’t new. Large European companies like Airbus Defence and Space can boast more than 50 years of involvement in manufacturing space hardware, and smaller ones like Austria’s Magna Steyr can enthrall audiences with the story of how they came to be a world expert in building cryogenic feed systems for Ariane rockets.

What is new is the leadership the commercial space sector is showing in setting the space agenda. They are finding solutions to problems of space sustainability. They are shouldering serious business risk. And they are boldly identifying business opportunities worthy of substantial private investment.

As recently as a decade ago, it was rare to see private businesses represented at international gatherings focused on multilateral space policy. Today they are active participants in briefing United Nations forums such as the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and the High-level Forum preparing UNISPACE+50 – often there by invitation as others seek their expertise and insight.

Read more at: friendsofeurope

What a Tool! Elon Musk Shows Off What SpaceX will Use to Build BFR Spaceship

To build a big frickin’ spaceship, you need a big frickin’ rack to put it on. And SpaceX has the rack.

The company’s billionaire CEO, Elon Musk, took to Instagram tonight to show off the main-body construction tool — which is analogous to the turning mandrel tool that Boeing uses as a rack for a 787 composite fuselage while it’s being built up from layers of carbon fiber. For what it’s worth, some have speculated that SpaceX’s partner for BFR carbon-fiber construction is Janicki Industries, which is headquartered in Sedro-Woolley, Wash.

The BFR interplanetary spaceship is the cargo-carrying element of the reusable Big Frickin’ Rocket that Musk eventually plans to use as an all-purpose space vehicle — for trips ranging from point-to-point suborbital passenger travel, to orbital satellite deployment, to moon missions, to journeys to Mars and beyond.

Last month, Musk said the spaceship is already under construction and should be on track to start short-hop test flights next year.

Read more at: Geekwire

SpaceShipTwo is a Step Closer to Space

Suborbital space tourism has suffered its share of setbacks and delays, from companies going out of business to fatal accidents, since the glory days of the Ansari X PRIZE in 2004. But the field took a small, but certain, step forward last week.

On Thursday, Virgin Galactic’s second SpaceShipTwo, named VSS Unity, performed its first powered flight. Carried aloft by its WhiteKnightTwo aircraft, Unity was released in the skies above Mojave, California at around 9 am local time April 5, as it has on several previous glide flights dating back to December 2016.

This time, though, pilots Mark “Forger” Stucky and Dave Mackay ignited the vehicle’s hybrid rocket motor for a 30-second burn. On the flight, the vehicle reached a top speed of Mach 1.87 and altitude of more than 25,000 meters before gliding back to a runway landing at the Mojave Air and Space Port. A successful flight, in the eyes of Virgin Galactic.

Read more at: Space review

Space Companies Like Blue Origin and OneWeb are Turning to Apprenticeships

Alex Condevillamar runs a computer-guided cutting machine at a new space company in Titusville five days a week, helping to build satellite components for RUAG Space USA.

One night a week, he leaves that job early to attend classes to learn more complex skills as a machinist. The classes are paid for by RUAG, as part of its apprenticeship philosophy. “It’s a lot of work, but I’m convinced this is where the future is,” says Condevillamar, a 39-year-old Army veteran who lives in Kissimmee. “If more companies did this, they would not only get better workers, they’d keep them longer.”

RUAG is leading a new movement that embraces apprenticeship on Florida’s Space Coast to help fill jobs and prepare a new high-tech workforce. The region is seeing a big surge in jobs as companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin and OneWeb build new factories and ramp up activity. Many of those companies are now part of the Space Coast Consortium, which is focused on making sure there are talented people around to work for them.

Read more at: Orlando Sentinel

President Trump Still Pushing NASA Pick Bridenstine Despite Slim Path to Senate Confirmation

The White House is standing by their NASA man. President Trump remains firmly behind his choice of Oklahoma GOP Rep. Jim Bridenstine to be the next administrator of the space agency, even though he does not appear to have the votes for Senate confirmation.

“Senate Democrats should stop their pointless obstruction, and confirm our eminently qualified nominee immediately,” said Lindsay Walters, deputy White House press secretary, said in a statement to USA TODAY. “The President looks forward to Rep. Bridenstine’s swift confirmation by the Senate, and is confident he will ensure America is a leader in space exploration once again.”

Bridenstine’s critics say NASA should be led by a “space professional” rather than a politician, and it’s not just the Senate’s 49 Democrats who are blocking the president’s pick

Read more at: USA Today

Scientists and Entrepreneurs Lobby for NASA Lunar Program

As congressional appropriators prepare to review NASA’s latest budget request, a group from academia and industry are seeking support for a lunar exploration initiative included in the proposal.

In an April 10 letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees, 72 people from the research and business communities asked Congress for full funding of the Lunar Discovery and Exploration program in NASA’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposal.

That program, located within NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, seeks $218 million to support future exploration of the moon. That funding includes $18 million for continued operations of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft and $200 million for other lunar research activities, such as procuring flights on commercially developed lunar lander missions.

Read more at: Space news

DARPA is Focusing on Space as the New Great Battlefront

After many years of mainly Earth-bound inventions and innovations, could it finally be time for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to set its sights elsewhere, particularly space? Regardless of whether you think it’s a worthy exercise or not, the agency itself appears to have found clear reasons to engage the endeavor.

Indeed, as a news release states, DARPA now sees a “clear path” to not only faster but also cheaper space technology. And what’s more, the current agency director himself, Steven Walker, has vowed in a statement that, “space is going to be one of my priorities.” It’s a promise that could very well shape the future of DARPA for many years to come.

Read more at: Space.news

US Air Force Increases Focus on Space

The U.S. Air Force has its focus set on space these days, as evidenced by its recently released Fiscal Year 2019 budget and an ongoing review of the military’s space operations. Both look promising.

“The Air Force’s FY-19 budget accelerates our efforts to deter, defend and prevail against anyone who seeks to deny our ability to freely operate in space,” Gen. John “Ray” Raymond, commander of Air Force Space Command, was quoted in an article in Space News.

Sandra Erwin, the writer of the article, went on to say: “The unclassified space budget the Air Force unveiled in February includes $8.5 billion for investments in new systems – $5.9 billion in the research and development accounts, and $2.6 billion for procurement of satellites and launch services, according to a service official.

Read more at: Space Daily

U.K. Space Industry Act to Future-proof Against Brexit

The U.K. Space Industry Act, passed last month, aims to “future-proof” the country’s space sector as it faces the challenging Brexit period while striving to become a major global space player.

The bill, however, only provides ‘bare bones’ of the future growth-enabling legislation with details including questions of liability and licensing to be established by secondary legislation following consultations.

According to Christopher Newman, professor of space law and policy at Northumbria University, the Space Industry Act is set to streamline regulations set in the Outer Space Act 1986, which it will partially replace. The Outer Space Act will remain in place for U.K. space activities abroad while the new Space Industry Act will provide framework for future activities within the U.K. including the first space launches.

Read more at: Spacenews

Putin Says Russia will Not Quit International Space Cooperation Programs

Russia has no intention of curtailing international cooperation in space, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.

“We are not going to upset anything or to quit these programs. We are determined to complete them. We have partners in the exploration of Mars and the Moon – the United States, Canada, Japan, and the European Union,” Putin said during a visit to the Kosmos (Space) pavilion at the VDNKh exhibition center.

He declared that Russia had the technologies, the wish and the financial capabilities, which were growing.

Read more at: TASS

In the Trump Administration, Deep Mistrust of Chinese, Russian Motives in Space

The Trump administration does not believe war in outer space is inevitable. But a lack of trust in what Russia and China are doing in space means the United States has to “work hard every day” to deter future aggression, said Scott Pace, the executive secretary of the National Space Council.

The National Space Council, led by Vice President Mike Pence, is working to direct American activities in space and promote innovation. The council also has taken a hard line on space being a “contested” environment, a view that is reflected in the administration’s National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy.

Speaking on Thursday at a Politico Space event, Pace said China and Russia are to blame for space no longer being a sanctuary. Ten to 15 years ago, the international policy community was debating whether space was becoming a battleground.

Read more at: Spacenews

Defeating China on the Next Front

We’ve got a new space race on our hands, and instead of competing as we should, we’re spacing out.

The Trump administration is doing an excellent job of utilizing statutory remedies to temper China’s decades-long economic aggression against the United States. But there is another important economic and global security issue that has gone almost entirely under the radar of both bureaucrats and most reporters: China’s race for global space domination.

According to Richard Fisher, an expert in China’s military affairs at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, the country is aiming “to achieve control of low earth orbit in order to defeat the United States on Earth.” Last month, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein added context for Mr. Fisher’s concerns, stating he “believe[s] we’re going to be fighting from space in a matter of years” and that we “must lead [the] joint war fighting in this new contested domain.”

Read more at: Washington Times

Analysts: Space Weapons Proliferating, there is More Congestion and Competition

As more countries and commercial companies invest in space programs, it is becoming harder to tell the difference between peaceful research projects and potentially destructive weapons, warns a new study by the Secure World Foundation. It cautions that an accelerating arms race in space raises huge concerns for the United States.

The foundation on Wednesday released the report, “Global Counterspace Capabilities: An Open Source Assessment.” Counterspace is an umbrella term for any technology that could be used to deceive, disrupt, deny, degrade or destroy space systems. Space weapons include direct-ascent, co-orbital, electronic warfare, directed energy and cyber.

Read more at: Spacenews

First Steps to Space: Yuri Gagarin’s Military Service Archive Declassified

The newly declassified archival documents were released just in time for Cosmonautics Day, celebrating cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s historic April 12, 1961 flight aboard the Vostok 1 spacecraft.

The archival release includes over a dozen pages of never-before-seen material, starting with an official accounting of Gagarin’s military postings and his promotion through the ranks of the Soviet Air Force, from lieutenant in 1957 following his completion of the Chkalov Air Force Pilot’s School in Orenburg, to senior lieutenant in 1959, to lieutenant-colonel in 1962 and finally colonel in 1963. The latter are accompanied by the relevant orders to confer the cosmonaut the new ranks.

Read more at: Space Daily

Creepy Soviet Space Shuttles are Sitting in a Kazakhstan Desert

Tucked into a lonely hangar at Baikonur Cosmodrome on the Kazakh steppe, two Soviet-era space shuttles are quietly gathering dust, bird poop, and rust. They’re also attracting photographers eager to sneak around the ruins, such as Alexandar Kaunas, who recently filmed part of his journey into the cavern where the derelict shuttles are housed.

One shuttle, named Ptichka, never left Earth. The other, a test vehicle, was never meant to fly.

It’s a rather unceremonious end for these abandoned icons of a once-proud space program. The space shuttles were designed and built during the 1970s and 1980s as part of the USSR’s attempt to outdo the U.S. winged orbiters. As envisioned, the Soviet shuttles would not only be able to fly themselves, they would also lift vastly heavier cargo into space that could then be used to build space stations and weapons.

Read more at: National Geographic