International Team Publishes Roadmap to Enhance Radioresistance for Space Colonization

An international team of researchers from NASA Ames Research Center, Environmental and Radiation Health Sciences Directorate at Health Canada, Oxford University, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, Belgian Nuclear Research Centre, Insilico Medicine, the Biogerontology Research Center, Boston University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Lethbridge, Ghent University, Center for Healthy Aging and many others have published a roadmap toward enhancing human radioresistance for space exploration and colonization in the peer-reviewed journal Oncotarget.

 “Our recent manuscript provides a comprehensive review of radioresistance for space radiation. Currently there is minimal research being done for radioresistance against HZE irradiation. The importance of these types of studies will be to reduce the associated health risks for long-term space exploration and allow for the development of potential countermeasures against space radiation.”

Read more at: Technology.org

Statically Charged Lunar Dust is Very, Very Bad for Your Lungs

Nobody said living in space was going to be easy. Beyond the actual difficulty of getting there, day-to-day living won’t be a moonwalk in the park either. Even with oxygen habitats to breathe in, a new study finds, lunar dust could quickly infiltrate human lungs, leading to a host of health problems.

Prolonged exposure to lunar dust could impair airway and lung function and make diseases like bronchitis commonplace in a moon community, says the new study published in GeoHealth by Stony Brook University in New York. The dust could also induce inflammation in the lungs, increasing the risk of cancer.

Read more at: Popular Mechanics

The 10 Best Places to Visit in the Solar System

Want to get away from it all? Very away from it all? It’s never too early to start planning your vacation—especially since it might take you a few years to travel to reach some of the solar system’s best spots. Still, the long trip is well worth it for the spectacular swimming, boating, and sunbathing opportunities unlike anything you’ve ever seen on this green Earth. Just be warned: Survival before, during, and after activities is not necessarily guaranteed.

Read more at: Popular Mechanics

Live Coverage: SpaceX Launches First Upgraded Falcon 9 Block 5 Rocket

Live coverage of the countdown and launch of the first SpaceX Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida with the Bangabandhu 1 communications satellite. SpaceX’s live video coverage begins at approximately 3:59 p.m. EDT (1959 GMT) Friday.

SpaceX technicians at Cape Canaveral are readying for the first launch of an upgraded Falcon 9 rocket configuration next week, a mission that will debut changes to make the launcher safer for astronauts and make it easier — and less expensive — for the company to reuse first stage boosters.

The launch, currently planned for May 4 during a launch window that opens at 4 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT), will loft the European-built Bangabandhu 1 communications satellite for Bangladesh.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Dragon’s CRS-14 Mission Concludes with Splashdown in Pacific Ocean

After 31 days of berthed operations, the CRS-14 Dragon from SpaceX wrapped up her mission to the International Space Station.  Bringing back thousands of pounds of experiments and equipment for recovery, including Robonaut, the Dragon spacecraft was released from the ISS on Saturday ahead of splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California around 15:00 EDT (19:00 UTC) on Saturday.

Following a flawless launch on 2 April from SLC-40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL, the CRS-14 Dragon mission successfully rendezvoused and berthed to the International Space Station on 4 April – after which the Station’s crew began offloading the more than 5,800 lbs of equipment, experiments, and supplies aboard the craft.

Read more at: NASA Spaceflight

Defense Department Turning Over Space Traffic Management to Commerce, but Details Still Unclear

A new policy said to be on President Trump’s desk for final approval would designate the Department of Commerce as the public face of space traffic management.

The job of policing space currently is performed by the Department of Defense. It involves answering queries from private citizens, corporations and foreign governments about the position of satellites on orbit, and warning agencies and commercial satellite operators of potential orbital collisions.

For the past several years the Pentagon had prepared to turn these responsibilities over to the Federal Aviation Administration but the Trump administration decided Commerce was a better fit in light of the booming private space economy.

Read more at: Spacenews

‘Beautiful View’: Remembering America’s First Manned Mission to Space, 57 Years Ago This Week

In the half-hour between 9:30 and 10 a.m. Eastern Time on 5 May 1961, the United States came, quite literally, to a standstill. A Philadelphia appeals court judge interrupted all proceedings to make an announcement, whilst free champagne—even at this hour—flowing freely in taverns, and traffic slowed in California freeways and people danced and sang in Times Square. Even the new president, John F. Kennedy, barely four months into his new job as one of the most powerful men in the world, could only watch, dumbstruck, as he beheld the view on a TV screen.

Fifty-seven years ago, America launched its first astronaut and set the nation’s feet on a new road, a new adventure, to discover a frontier far more ambitious than any previously contemplated: the conquest of space. Standing in his secretary’s office, after having just broken up a meeting of the National Security Council, Kennedy’s hands were shoved deep into his pockets as he witnessed real history in the making. On the screen, the camera panned upward to trace the trajectory of a rocket, heading into space, bearing the first American ever to break the bonds of Earth and venture into the ethereal blackness of space beyond.

Read more at: America Space

Will Uncle Sam Shower Some Love on Spaceports?

All around the country, from Virginia to Alaska and all points in between, new spaceports are popping up to support the burgeoning private space industry. Now, the federal government may be ready to throw some fuel on that fire.

In April, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a Federal Aviation Authorization bill that the Senate will begin debate within weeks. Tucked inside the FAA bill is an amendment (H. Amend. 565) that would “require a study on possible funding options for a potential federal grant program for spaceport activities.”

In other words, Congress could pony up some grant money to support emerging spaceports and create a new office devoted to easing their birth pains. Senators want to send the bill to President Trump before the August recess (a responsible thing to do since, the current FAA authorization expires in September.)

Read more at: Popular Mechanics

SLS Requires Advanced Boosters by Flight Nine Due to Lack of Shuttle Heritage Components

NASA has issued a new Request For Information (RFI) that shows there is a deadline for the Space Launch System (SLS) to transition to “Advanced (Evolved) Boosters” no later than the ninth flight. This is due to a future obsolescence issue with the current booster design which relies on Shuttle heritage components of which there is only a limited amount of stock remaining. NASA intends to purchase another six SLS flight booster sets before the stock runs out, prior to moving to the Advanced Boosters.

The Space Launch System includes a mix of former Shuttle and Constellation (CxP) hardware, a winning design from numerous studies conducted by the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) via political guidance provided in the 2010 Authorization Act.

Read more at: NASA Spaceflight

Cruz Remains Opposed to Ending ISS in Mid-2020s

The chairman of the Senate’s space subcommittee vowed May 8 to block any attempt by the administration to end operations of the International Space Station in the mid-2020s.

Speaking at the Humans to Mars Summit here by the Mars exploration advocacy group Explore Mars, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said ending federal funding of the station in 2025, a proposal included in NASA’s fiscal year 2019 budget request, ran counter to existing laws calling for its continued use beyond 2024.

“As long as I am chairman of the space subcommittee, we will not be phasing out the ISS as long as there is scientifically usable life and we can continue to extend that,” he said. “It would be irresponsible not to get the maximum return from that investment and to extend the life of it as long as it is scientifically feasible.”

Read more at: Spacenews

Why Mars is Not a Priority for Space Exploration

NASA executed a perfect launch of the Mars InSight probe Saturday on top of an Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base. After a six-and-a-half-month voyage, InSight will land on Mars and deploy a heat sensor and a seismograph to study the interior of the Red Planet for at least a Martian year, measuring Marsquakes and gaining an understanding of how rocky planets like Mars were formed and developed.

Mars InSight is a pure science mission that serves no other overarching policy objective than the quest for knowledge. There is certainly nothing wrong with science for its own sake. Great countries value science and are willing to spend a little money on pursuing it.

Read more at: Hill

Russian Cosmonaut could Ride US Spacecraft to Moon for First Mission

The first flight of a Russian cosmonaut to the moon could take place aboard of the US Orion spacecraft in 2024, a space industry source told Sputnik on Friday.

“Within the framework of talks, draft plans of future manned missions to the lunar stations have been made. Among other issues, the possibility to send one Russian cosmonaut as part of the crew of the Orion spacecraft that will drag the Russian airlock module to the moon is on the agenda. The Russian cosmonaut will have to ensure the integration of the module with the station,” the source said.

Read more at: Moon Daily

Better Ways for Jeff Bezos to Spend $131 Billion

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is one of the most successful businessmen of all time. He has amassed an unfathomable fortune, reportedly $131 billion. This presents a predicament. Mr. Bezos commands far more money than any one person could possibly spend, far more than any one family dynasty could possibly spend. What should he do with all this money?

Unfortunately, Mr. Bezos appears to have come up with a terrible response.

“The only way that I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel,” he said in a recent interview. He has founded a company called Blue Origin that builds reusable rockets. He wants to send tourists into space and envisions a future in which heavy industry — and millions of workers — will be based out there. Mr. Bezos called Blue Origin “incredibly important for civilization long term.”

Read more at: NY Times

Spaceport America: New Mexico’s Protracted Gamble on Commercial Spaceflight

The Sun bleached stretch of the New Mexico desert known as the Jornada del Muerto— the journey of the dead man — is an unlikely spot for Earth’s premier portal to another world. Yet this high desert outpost, with its empty horizon and indifferent cows grazing in the distance, is where you’ll find the two-mile long, three-and-a-half-foot deep concrete runway of Spaceport America, the first facility built as a hub for leisure travel to outer space.

Just over a decade ago, Spaceport America promised great things to the citizens of two of New Mexico’s poorest counties. So great, in fact, that residents voted in a tax hike to build and maintain it near the tiny town of Truth or Consequences (T or C). But the massive station has been an economic failure, tied to a stop-and-start commercial space industry that has failed to generate the tourism that residents were promised would help foot the bill. Perhaps more eerily, the spaceport itself has become a giant ghost town — a singular evocation of what happens when high hopes bump up against constraining realities.

Read more at: Undark

Analysis Looks at Costs, Markets and Government Role in Private Space Stations

Last year, the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI) conducted an initial assessment of the viability of a private space station located in low Earth orbit (LEO). The study was conducted under the direction of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

The full study (“Market Analysis of a Privately Owned and Operated Space Station,” by Keith W. Crane, Benjamin A. Corbin, Bhavya Lal, Reina S. Buenconsejo, Danielle Piskorz, Annalisa L. Weigel, February 2018)  doesn’t appear to be publicly available. However, an executive summary is included in NASA’s International Space Station Transition Report

Read more at: Parabolic arc

NASA Spacecraft Discovers New Magnetic Process in Turbulent Space

Though close to home, the space immediately around Earth is full of hidden secrets and invisible processes. In a new discovery reported in the journal Nature, scientists working with NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft — MMS — have uncovered a new type of magnetic event in our near-Earth environment by using an innovative technique to squeeze extra information out of the data.

Magnetic reconnection is one of the most important processes in the space — filled with charged particles known as plasma — around Earth. This fundamental process dissipates magnetic energy and propels charged particles, both of which contribute to a dynamic space weather system that scientists want to better understand, and even someday predict, as we do terrestrial weather.  Reconnection occurs when crossed magnetic field lines snap, explosively flinging away nearby particles at high speeds. The new discovery found reconnection where it has never been seen before — in turbulent plasma.

Read more at: NASA

NASA Successfully Test Fires 3D-Printed Rocket Engine Part

NASA successfully hot-fire tested a 3D-printed combustion chamber for a rocket engine. The successful test is the latest in a series of advancements in 3D-printed rocket technology from both private companies and public research groups.

The engine project is the work of three NASA centers across the country: Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio; Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia; and Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

In 2015, material scientists at Glenn developed a powdered copper alloy that engineers at Marshall used to 3D-print the space agency’s first full-scale copper rocket engine part, a lining for the combustion chamber. Now, a new manufacturing project created a chamber jacket for that lining. Chamber jackets are used to help protect parts of the engine from the immense pressure generated in the engine’s combustion chamber.

Read more at: Popular Mechanics

Elon Musk Wants to Launch the Same Rocket to Orbit Twice in a Single Day

Launching the same rocket to orbit twice in 24 hours has never been done before. But Elon Musk says the newest version of his Falcon 9 rocket will accomplish the feat in 2019.

“This is a ridiculously hard thing that has taken us…16 years of extreme effort and many, many iterations,” the serial entrepreneur told reporters, after warning them “we’re definitely going to stay on space, don’t even try.” SpaceX is debuting the new rocket today with the launch of Bangladesh’s first satellite.

Musk said this is intended to be the final version of the SpaceX workhorse Falcon 9, allowing his engineers to focus on a larger interplanetary rocket called the BFR.

Read more at: QZ

Chinese Private Space Company OneSpace to Launch First Rocket on May 17

Chinese space company OneSpace Technology Co. revealed on Tuesday that they would attempt the first launch of its solid-fuelled OS-X suborbital rocket on May 17, 2018.

The announcement was made in Chongqing in southwest China, where the company has a major base, with officials stating that preparations for the launch are ongoing at an undisclosed location in Northwest China. The launch date announcement follows a vertical assembly test on April 11, using independently developed equipment to transport and erect the rocket, and successful tests of its solid-propellant engine in December.

Read more at: Gbtimes

China to Use Soviet Engine to Power its First Reusable Space Rocket

China is developing its first space rocket with a reusable first stage that could see its trial launch as early as 2020, SpaceNews reported, citing a senior Chinese rocket designer.

Long Lehao of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), revealed the new plans for the Long March 8 medium-lift launcher during a space industry conference in Harbin on April 24. According to Long Lehao, the Long March 8 will allow China to place up to 4.5-ton payloads to a 700-kilometer (434 miles) Sun-synchronous orbit.

The core of the Long March 8 is based on the central stage of the Long March 7 rocket with a pair of side boosters from the Long March 11 launcher.

Read more at: Space daily

Mars Helicopter to Fly on NASA’s Next Red Planet Rover Mission

NASA is sending a helicopter to Mars. The Mars Helicopter, a small, autonomous rotorcraft, will travel with the agency’s Mars 2020 rover mission, currently scheduled to launch in July 2020, to demonstrate the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Planet.

“NASA has a proud history of firsts,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “The idea of a helicopter flying the skies of another planet is thrilling. The Mars Helicopter holds much promise for our future science, discovery, and exploration missions to Mars.” U.S. Rep. John Culberson of Texas echoed Bridenstine’s appreciation of the impact of American firsts on the future of exploration and discovery.

Read more at: Mars daily

Using Extreme Value Theory for Determining the Probability of Carrington‐Like Solar Flares

By their very nature, extreme space weather events occur rarely, and therefore, statistical methods are required to determine the probability of their occurrence. Space weather events can be characterized by a number of natural phenomena such as X‐ray (solar) flares, solar energetic particle fluxes, coronal mass ejections, and various geophysical indices (such as Dst, Kp, and F10.7). In this paper extreme value theory (EVT) is used to investigate the probability of extreme solar flares. Previous work has assumed that the distribution of solar flares follows a power law. However, such an approach can lead to a poor estimation of the return times of flares due to uncertainties in the tails of the probability distribution function. Using EVT and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites X‐ray flux data, it is shown that the expected 150 year return level is approximately an X60 flare while a Carrington‐like flare is a one in a 100 year event.

Read more at: AGU

Private Space Companies No Longer have to Follow the Law

It just got a whole lot easier for private companies to launch satellites, rovers, and spacecrafts, and pursue future industries like asteroid mining. The catch? The U.S. is completely ignoring what’s outlined in a 51-year-old treaty designed to keep space peaceful and war-free.

The Space Commerce Free Enterprise Bill, which passed the House of Representatives yesterday, works off the Outer Space Treaty, which the United States and dozens of other countries signed in 1967 and serves as a basic framework for keeping space safe and accessible for every country. Countries can’t own property on behalf of their own nation, and they’re liable for any private activity from their country. But the U.S.’s new bill won’t apply every part of the Outer Space Treaty to private companies. In other words, the U.S. doesn’t believe that it’s liable for activities of private space companies like SpaceX or Blue Origin.

Read more at: Outline

Seeing Shadows of Rights: What is the Intent of Congress in HR 2809?

The House of Representatives took up HR 2809, the American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act. and passed it by voice vote on April 24. The bill, which was introduced last June, significantly changes the licensing process for private space activities, including the federal agency responsible for approving private space activities. This piece will not examine the details of HR 2809 as they have yet to be reconciled with the Senate and whatever version of a commercial space bill it produces. Rather, this essay will look at the underlying paradigm HR 2809 embodies: that private space activities are a right of US citizens and not a private interest created and authorized by the federal government. The author prefaces this essay by emphasizing that. Despite some opinions to the contrary, the Outer Space Treaty and Article VI in particular apply to space activities performed by private actors.

Read more at: Space review

How China’s Vision for Aerospace can be Used for Social Good

In 2015, China outlined its Made in China 2025 plan which would make the country a “world manufacturing power” within a decade. The aerospace equipment industry would be a significant factor in this plan to ramp up the country’s production power, as China also wanted to become a leader when it comes to satellite technology. In 2017, the C919 passenger jet—a domestically produced Chinese airplane—also completed its very first long-haul flight, a clear reflection of the sort of breakthroughs that the Made in China 2025 plan aims to promote.

But the development of the country’s aerospace industry—which was worth RMB 341.26 billion in 2015 (equivalent to just over $53 billion) according to Statista—could have more implications than just establishing China as a manufacturing superpower.

Read more at: Technode

Surviving the Inferno of Entry, Descent and Landing

Anticipation is building as preparations are well underway for the launch of NASA’s next Mars mission, InSight. But before the roar of the rocket lifting off from Vandenberg Air Force Base has subsided, a NASA team will be hard at work preparing for the lander’s eventual plunge through the Martian atmosphere.

Experts from NASA’s Langley Research Center are key to providing modeling and computer simulations, which will be used by the InSight entry, descent and landing (EDL) team led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory along with Lockheed Martin Space and NASA’s Ames Research Center.

Read more at: Technology

British Rival to Galileo Satellite System ‘Possible for 3 Billion Pounds’

A British satellite navigation system to rival the European Union’s Galileo project could be up and running in four to five years and would cost about 3 billion pounds ($4 billion), one expert estimated on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Theresa May asked for options for a British alternative to the Galileo project earlier in May, in response to a row over EU attempts to restrict Britain’s access to sensitive information after Brexit.

Colin Paynter, managing director of Airbus Defence and Space UK, told a committee of UK lawmakers that it was technically feasible for Britain to develop an alternative and that if the country stayed close to the Galileo solution it would cost towards the lower end of a 3-5 billion pound range.

Read more at: Reuters

Satellite Data Backs Theory of North Korean Nuclear Site Collapse

A new analysis of satellite images and seismic waves from North Korea’s nuclear test site support theories that the underground facility has at least partially collapsed.

Seismologists across the world have been tracking the clandestine nuclear weapons program for years by analyzing vibrations that emanate from explosions at the test site under Mount Mantap (SN: 8/5/17, p. 18). Now, researchers have paired 3-D satellite images of Mount Mantap with seismic tremor data to simulate how the mountain’s interior might have changed after a hydrogen bomb test on September 3, 2017.

The simulations indicate that the blast — which triggered an earthquake of estimated magnitude 6.3 — caused a cave-in directly above the detonation site, researchers report online May 10 in Science. The simulations also suggest that a second rock collapse, about 700 meters south of the detonation site, caused a smaller quake about eight minutes after the initial explosion.

Read more at: Science news

The Measure of a Man: Evaluating the Role of Astronauts in the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program (part 3)

In July 1967, Vice President Hubert Humphrey paid an unusual visit to a classified facility in Washington, DC. Humphrey was there to meet astronauts working on the Manned Orbiting Laboratory and get briefed about the program. One of the people assigned to brief him was MOL astronaut Richard Truly. “It was quite a deal,” Truly said in a recent interview, remembering the events of five decades ago.

A lot was happening with MOL in 1967. In June, the US Air Force selected its third group of MOL astronauts, adding four more pilots to the thirteen who had previously been selected. This third group included Robert H. Lawrence, an Air Force officer who would have been the first African American to fly in space but died only a few months later in an airplane crash.

Read more at: Space review

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