Falcon 9 Rocket Blasts Off From Vandenberg Air Force Base Using New Automated Safety System

A Falcon 9 rocket soared through a mostly clear sky over the Lompoc Valley early Sunday afternoon following a launch that marked a pair of firsts for Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The SpaceX-built rocket took off from VAFB’s Space Launch Complex-4 at 1:25 p.m. The rocket’s primary payload was a set of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites, which will be included among a commercial network that aims to cover 100 percent of Earth.

The launch set a pair of milestones for VAFB, as it was the first under new 30th Space Wing Commander Michael Hough and it was also the first from the base — and just the second ever — to use an Autonomous Flight Safety System (AFSS), which relies on computer systems rather than humans for rocket safety tracking.

Read more at: lompoc record

FCC Grants OneWeb Approval to Launch Over 700 Satellites for ‘Space Internet’

FCC chairman Ajit Pai has released a statement announcing that the commission has granted OneWeb approval for US market access to launch a network of internet-beaming satellites into orbit. OneWeb, which is backed in part by Richard Branson, has been working on providing broadband internet via satellite since 2000, when it acquired the satellite spectrum formerly owned by SkyBridge.

OneWeb plans to launch a constellation of 720 low-Earth orbit satellites using non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) technology in order to provide global, high-speed broadband. The company’s goal has far-reaching implications, and would provide internet to rural and hard-to-reach areas that currently have little access to internet connectivity.

Read more at: Verge

Long March 5: China’s Most Powerful Rocket Rolled Out for Second Mission

China has rolled out its largest and most powerful launch vehicle, the Long March 5, in preparation for the rocket’s second launch from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Centre.

Transfer of Long March 5 (Y2) from the vertical assembly building to the launch tower began at 08:30 local time (00:30 UTC) Monday, completing the 2.7 km trip around 11:00 am. This second mission will see the 2.5 stage Long March 5 launch the Shijian-18 experimental telecommunications satellite to geostationary transfer orbit. The launch window opens on July 2 and runs to July 5. The launch is, as with other launches from the new launch centre on Hainan Island, expected to be streamed live.

Read more at: GB Times

ESA Aims to Privatize Space Rider Unmanned Spaceplane by 2025

Although Europe’s Space Rider reusable spaceplane is three years or so from its debut, the European Space Agency is already making plans to privatize the unmanned orbital vehicle. By 2025, ESA officials said, Space Rider could be operating commercially, flying science payloads and bringing them back to Earth for roughly $9,200 per kilogram.

Arianespace, the Evry, France-based launch services provider, would likely serve as Space Rider’s operator, offering industry and government customers the opportunity to fill the spaceplane 800-kilogram payload capacity with microgravity science, materials testing, telecommunications and robotics demonstrations.

Space Rider is being developed by Thales Alenia Space and Lockheed Martin under the direction of the Italian Aerospace Research Centre, Cira. Funding for the program’s design phase was approved in December by ESA’s 22 member states.

Read more at: Space News

Sleeping in Space

In space there is no “up” or “down,” and due to microgravity, astronauts are weightless. Though NASA astronauts are allotted 8 hours every 24 hours for sleep, they have to overcome the unique challenges of sleep in space in order to maintain their sleep health.

Currently, astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) are the only ones who do any space travel. The ISS has 13 rooms, 2 bathrooms, is the size of a football field, and has a mass of roughly 1 million pounds. It orbits about 200 miles above Earth and travels 17,000 miles per hour. That means every 90 minutes, the ISS does a full rotation around Earth, which means the astronauts get to see the sun rise and set every 90 minutes. Talk about potential circadian rhythm disorder!

Read more at: Sleepreview

Qualifying the Life Saver – LAS Set for Two More Tests Ahead of EM-2

Following Orbital ATK successful test-firing of an Orion launch abort system (LAS) abort motor at their Promontory facility in Utah on June 15, two more qualification tests will be required before the vital crew safety element is officially ready to fly with crewed Space Launch System (SLS) missions, beginning with Exploration Mission -2 (EM-2) mission in the early 2020s.

The solid propellant rocket motor is designed to quickly pull the Orion spacecraft’s crew module (CM) away from its launch vehicle in an emergency, either on the launch pad or during the early part of launch.

The June 15 quick, five-second ground firing, called Qualification Motor-1 (QM-1), tested changes to the motor’s reduced thrust profile and used a special test configuration to collect additional acoustic data.

Read more at: NASA Spaceflight

New Spacesuit System Could Repel Destructive Moon Dust

Anyone who has seen a dusty moonwalkers’ suit in a museum can appreciate just how challenging an environment it was to walk on the moon. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, 12 people made the journey and worked on the lunar surface for as long as 27 hours, across three spacewalks.

It’s now nearly 50 years since the first moonwalk, and engineers are still trying to figure out how to solve the problems associated with lunar dust. One idea — led by Kavya Manyapu, a Ph.D. student at the University of North Dakota who also works on the CST-100 commercial spacecraft with Boeing for NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program — is a dust mitigation technology integrated into the spacesuit itself. Her research, “Proof of concept demonstration of novel technologies for lunar spacesuit dust mitigation,” was recently published in Acta Astronautica.

Read more at: Seeker

Space Tourism Could Help Boost Science and Health Research – Here’s How

The announcement of the draft Spaceflight Bill in the Queen’s Speech will allow the development of spaceports in the UK. This could see members of the paying public launched into space as tourists, or taking sub-orbital flights from London to New York in just 45 minutes.

Such adventures will be made possible through futuristic spaceplanes, as are already in development by companies such as Virgin Galactic, that will enable us mere mortals to experience weightlessness. If this sounds only of interest to those who can afford the six-figure ticket price, it also has major implications for scientific discovery. Space travel-related research has probably already had a more substantial positive impact on your life than you realise, and this announcement could increase this still further.

Read more at: Conversation

Commercial Balloons in the Stratosphere Could Monitor Hurricanes and Scan for Solar Storms

The layers of polyethylene, as thin as plastic sandwich bags, sit neatly folded in a wooden box at the headquarters of World View Enterprises in Tucson, Arizona. It seems the stuff of shower curtains, not spaceflight. But once inflated with helium, the plastic envelope will swell into a teardrop-shaped balloon spanning the length of a blue whale, able to soar more than 30 kilometers up into the stratosphere. There, above 99% of the atmosphere, it will offer sweeping panoramas of Earth or clear views into space.

If all goes to plan, this week, World View workers will unfurl the balloon in the chilly, predawn air, laying it carefully on a protective tarp at a desert site about 40 kilometers south of Tucson. As the sun rises, a helium truck will fill it with the gas of 44,000 party balloons. Once engorged, the balloon will take flight for 4 to 7 days, dangling a gondola with World View’s own weather instruments and—get this—a Kentucky Fried Chicken sandwich paid for by the fast-food chain.

Read more at: Science Magazine

To Boost Stratobus Project, Thales Alenia Space Takes Stake in French Airship Maker

Thales Alenia Space has taken a “minority stake” in French airship maker Airstar Aerospace with the goal of completing a prototype of its Stratobus pseudo-satellite by 2020.

The investment, which the companies declined to quantify, was announced June 19 at the Paris Air Show.

Thales Alenia Space said in a press release that its investment in Airstar will enable the company to “address certain technological roadblocks on Stratobus” — the autonomous airship Thales Alenia Space has been developing since 2015 to provide a high-altitude platform for satellite-like capabilities including Earth observation and communications. The company aims to field operational Stratobus airships in 2021.

Read more at: Space News

ESA Kickstarts Prometheus Reusable Engine with First Funding Tranche

The European Space Agency began funding a reusable rocket engine anticipated to be ready for a test-fire demonstration in 2020, the same year as the first launch of the future Ariane 6 rocket.

ESA and Airbus Safran Launchers, the 50-50 joint venture between Airbus and Safran that is rebranding as ArianeGroup, signed a contract to develop Prometheus, a liquid- oxygen-and-methane-fueled engine that would cost 1 million euros ($1.1 million) per copy, or a tenth of what Ariane 5’s Vulcain 2 first-stage engine costs to produce. ArianeGroup is working on Prometheus in parallel with development of Ariane 6, which will initially rely on the expendable Vulcain 2.1 engine.

Read more at: Space News

Lunar Laser Link: Virtual Reality from the Moon

The world’s first laser communication link … from the Moon!

A laser communications terminal on a private firm’s upcoming mission to the Moon has been announced during this week’s Paris Air Show. Astrobotic of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and ATLAS Space Operations Inc. of Traverse City, Michigan are now linked at the laser – offering up to one gigabit per second of data to its customers. “This is an historic, thousand-fold increase of bandwidth for Astrobotic’s lunar mission,” explains the firm’s press statement.

John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic says: “Laser communications have been sought after by planetary missions for years. ATLAS and Astrobotic are now making this capability a reality.”

Read more at: Space.com

Dutch Astronomers Discover Recipe to Make Cosmic Glycerol

A team of laboratory astrophysicists from Leiden University (the Netherlands) managed to make glycerol under conditions comparable to those in dark interstellar clouds. They allowed carbon monoxide ice to react with hydrogen atoms at minus 250 degrees Celsius. The researchers publish their findings in the Astrophysical Journal.

In recent years more and more complex molecules have been identified in space. Their formation schemes are still under debate. Gleb Fedoseev, now a postdoc at the Osservatorio Astrofisico di Catania in Italy and the first author of the article: “The density of particles in space is extremely low and carbon monoxide is highly volatile. However, it freezes out on small dust particles at temperatures below minus 250 degrees Celsius where it acts as the seed for larger and more complex molecules, once it starts interacting with impacting hydrogen atoms.”

Read more at: Astronomie

Full Thrust on Europe’s Aew Ariane 6 Rocket

The vehicle is due to enter service in 2020, gradually replacing the existing workhorse, the Ariane 5. The prime contractor, the recently rebranded ArianeGroup, gave an update on the status of the programme here at this week’s Paris Air Show. “We’re on track with our roadmap and Ariane 6 is progressing very well,” CEO Alain Charmeau told BBC News.

“Perhaps the most spectacular highlight at the moment is the testing of our Vinci engine. It’s a brand new engine that will be on our new, versatile upper-stage. And on Monday we had another successful test. We’re now well above 100 hundred tests.” The Vinci can be stopped and restarted multiple times. It will permit the Ariane 6 to conduct a broader range of missions than its predecessor.

Read more at: BBC

Thirteen Years Ago Today in Mojave…

Thirteen years ago I was on the Mojave flight line to watch Mike Melvill make the first private spaceflight aboard SpaceShipOne. I remember well the excitement of that day, the feeling that a new era of human spaceflight lay right around the corner.

All the hype we’ve been listening to for the last 13 years about how great SpaceShipOne and the Ansari X Prize were and what great things they did. Meanwhile, SpaceShipTwo has dragged on longer than the entire Apollo moon program without flying to space. And there have been no other commercial human spaceflights, either.

Read more at: Parabolic Arc

Magnetic Space Tug Could Target Dead Satellites

Derelict satellites could in future be grappled and removed from key orbits around Earth with a space tug using magnetic forces. This same magnetic attraction or repulsion is also being considered as a safe method for multiple satellites to maintain close formations in space. Such satellite swarms are being considered for future astronomy or Earth-observing missions – if their relative positions can stay stable they could act as a single giant telescope.

To combat space debris, interest is growing in plucking entire satellites from space. The biggest challenge is to grapple and secure such uncontrolled, rapidly tumbling objects, typically of several tonnes.

Read more at: ESA

US Industrial Base at Risk for Key Rocket Motor Ingredient

A California Republican congressman included a provision near the bottom of a proposed act dealing with domestic strategic materials that would restrict companies manufacturing rocket motors for the Department of Defense and NASA to source its oxidizer for its solid-propellant rocket boosters from within the United States.

The only problem is there is just one U.S. company that manufactures the key chemical compound known as ammonium perchlorate, or AP, and industry isn’t happy that its flexibility to obtain the best priced substance through competition outside of the U.S. could be in jeopardy.

Read more at: Defense News

With a Strong Partner Like Russia, Nothing would Stop China’s New Space Station

Speaking to journalists Monday on the sidelines of the international aviation show in Le Bourget, France, Komarov said that “they [the Chinese] have made an offer; we are exchanging proposals on participations in projects, but they have a different orbital inclination [standard], a different orbit and somewhat different plans from our own.”

Earlier this year, China completed testing of its space laboratory, and declared that it was ready to begin construction of a new space station beginning in 2019. Earlier, Xu Yansong, the director for international cooperation at the China National Space Administration, confirmed that construction of the planned low earth orbit space station should wrap up by 2022, and that the project would be open for cooperation with other countries.

Read more at: Sputnik News

National Security Needs Robust Commercial Space

Recently, the American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act (ASCFEA) was introduced to reform domestic oversight of certain commercial space activities. As outlined in a previous post, this bill tackles two issues: (1) it reforms oversight of commercial remote sensing; and (2) it introduces certification for missions that currently stand outside of America’s regulatory regime. The bill is a major step in the right direction, particularly for the commercial outer space industry. One of the questions that has arisen, however, is how the bill would affect America’s national security.

Ever since commercial companies first embarked on activities in outer space, there have been concerns about how their actions would interact with America’s national security apparatus in orbit.

Read more at: Niskanen Center

Squaring the Circle: Europe Wants Launcher Autonomy and Low Launch Prices

European governments on June 22 conducted a rare genuine public debate over whether Europe views autonomous access to space as a strategic priority and, if so, how far it will go to support it. As became clear, Europe is still not ready to accept all the consequences of labeling space launch as “strategic,” which usually means that financial considerations take a back seat. Many do not want to give Europe’s launcher sector, led by Ariane Group, a blank check.

It is not often that conflicting views on the subject are publicly aired, especially in France, which is the only nation in Europe to have identified launch-service independence as worth huge amounts of public treasure.

The new French research minister, Frederique Vidal, has stated the government’s endorsement of a Buy European Launchers Act, now being debated by the 28-nation European Union’s executive commission.

Read more at: Space Intel Report

House Legislation Would Provide Out of This World Investments for NASA

Aiming to add to NASA’s funding and stability, Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) introduced the Aeronautics Innovation Act on Friday morning. Coauthored by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), House Bill 3033 would mature and demonstrate new aeronautics technologies.

“This bill will support our team here in the United States so we can continue to compete with international innovation and remain on top of the curve,” Knight said in a statement. “By supporting NASA in these projects for innovation, we can ensure the United States remains the leader in transforming the aircraft industry that will also strengthen our military capabilities.”

The bill would ensure support for NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate’s Strategic Implementation Plan by setting authorization levels for the next five years.

Read more at: Signalscv

The Precis: UAE National Space Policy

The United Arab Emirates revealed details of its National Space Policy during the 56th Session of the Legal and Subcommittee meeting in Vienna March 27-April 7, 2017. The presentation, which was given by Naser Al-Rashedi of the Space Policy and Regulations Directory of the UAE Space Agency, is the first substantive look of the Policy the UAE has proffered to the public. The following summation is aggregated from the presentation made on April 6, 2017 and is intended to supplement the previous analysis of the UAE National Space Policy published the 3rd Quarter 2016 (Issue IV) of The Precis on September 2, 2016.

The UAE National Policy articulates five fundamental purposes to facilitate the UAE Government’s intentions for the space sector to include its citizens, industry, the international community and other stakeholders.

Read more at: Space Watch ME

Designing the Laws of Space with Western Sydney University Law Professor Steven Freeland

Picture this: a spaceship exploring the depths of the universe, far from the safety and gravity of Earth; and stalking the craft’s halls, a murderer, picking off crew members one-by-one. It is a trope that has been part of a thousand sci-fi movies, but as life imitates art, what if it did happen? How would you prosecute someone who committed a crime in space?

Despite having the allure of being the final frontier, lawyers have already drafted, and continue to redraft, laws and treaties binding space activity; including, if it should ever happen, murder. While serious crimes have not yet been an issue, it is only a matter of time. With a slew of aerospace enterprises planning on offering wealthy tourists joy rides into space and NASA investigating colonising other planets, the number of humans going into space is going to grow exponentially.

Read more at: Daily Telegraph

Rogers Warns Air Force Not to Resist Space Corps Proposal

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) warned top Air Force officials not to undermine his proposal to create a Space Corps within the service.  He characterized his blistering remarks about being “outraged” and “shocked” by their reaction as a “friendly warning,” but it sounded more threatening than that.  Rogers chairs the House Armed Services Committee’s (HASC’s) subcommittee that oversees most military space programs. His remarks were made during today’s markup of that subcommittee’s portion of the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The proposal became public on Tuesday when HASC posted the draft bill text and report language that the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces took up today.  All the HASC subcommittees are in the process of marking up their segments of the bill.  The full committee will mark up the final bill next Wednesday (June 28).

Read more at: Space Policy Online

Design and Operations of Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessels (COPV)

9–13 October 2017 – Paris, France

This course will provide an introduction to the basic principles governing the design and operation of Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessels (COPV). The comprehensive overview of current technological understanding will provide both engineering mechanics fundamentals and practical applications drawn from experience to educate program managers, design engineers, ground and flight operators, safety analysts, quality inspectors and users/customers. To register, download the Registration Form from the website, fill in and return to: [email protected] not later than 15 September 2017.

Read more at: IAASS

Re-Entry Safety Analysis

16-17 October 2017 – Toulouse, France

The course is intended to provide the participant with an understanding of how to perform analyses for assessing the safety risk of space systems re-entry operations. Such analyses should be performed during the early stage of design as they may drive the decision to include controlled re-entry capability, to modify components design and materials selection to enhance demise to meet applicable regulatory risk thresholds, and consideration of alternative launch facilities and orbital inclinations. To register, download the Registration Form from the website, fill in and return to: [email protected] not later than 1 October 2017.

Read more at: IAASS

Space Debris: Risk Analysis & Mitigation

16-17 October 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. To register, download the Registration Form from the website, fill in and return to:[email protected] not later than 1 October 2017.

Read more at: IAASS

Software System Safety

16-17 October 2017 – Toulouse, France

The course is designed to provide the participant with an understanding of the application of system safety during software design phases.  To register, download the Registration Form at http://www.apt-research.com/training/index.html . Contact Megan Stroud at +1.256.327.3373 or [email protected]  for more information.

Read more at: IAASS

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