SAE International Co-publishes First Commercial Space Travel, Exploration Safety Standard

With commercial space exploration an imminent reality, the need for safety certification is crucial.

No such set of standards had existed; but that has now changed. SAE International, headquartered in Warrendale, Pa., co-published a new standard developed by the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS) Space Safety Institute (SSI).

The IAASS-SSI-1700 Commercial Human-Rated System standard establishes requirements developed by the IAASS SSI for the safety certification of commercial human-rated systems (CHS) for space system designers, engineers, and program managers. In short, the requirements are designed to protect the crew, passengers, spacecraft, relevant launch vehicles or carriers, and any other interfacing system from spaceflight hazards.

Read more at: sae

Boeing Finishes SLS LOX Tank Foam Work, Recovering from Tube Contamination Issues

Prime contractor Boeing recently completed Thermal Protection System (TPS) applications on the liquid oxygen (LOX) tank for Core Stage-1 (CS-1), the first NASA Space Launch System (SLS) Core Stage. The cryogenic propellant tank was moved out of Cell N at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans on June 20, where spray-on foam insulation (SOFI) was applied to the outside of the tank.

Work on the critical engine section element was slowed earlier this year by issues with contamination of tubing, but NASA and Boeing are continuing to move forward with work on all the elements of the rocket for the first SLS launch. In April, foam applications on the Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter (LVSA) were completed at the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Alabama.

Read more at: NASA spaceflight

Orion Parachutes Chalk Up Another Test Success in Arizona

The parachute system for Orion, America’s spacecraft that will carry humans to deep space, deployed as planned after being dropped from an altitude of 6.6 miles on July 12, at the U.S. Army Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona. Data from the successful seventh drop in a series of eight qualification tests will help NASA engineers certify Orion’s parachutes for missions with astronauts.

This was the final test using a special dart-shaped test article. The last test in the series, scheduled for September, will use a capsule-shaped test article representative of the spacecraft NASA will use on Orion’s upcoming missions, including the first crewed mission, Exploration Mission-2.

Read more at: Phys.org

Jettison Motor Readied for Integration into Orion’s LAS

NASA and the agency’s commercial partners have been preparing for the Orion spacecraft’s Ascent Abort Test (AA-2) currently slated to take place in 2019. Aerojet Rocketdyne’s jettison motor is a critical part of this test and is being prepped for use.

The jettison motor is part of Orion’s Launch Abort System (LAS), which would be used in the advent of an anomaly during ascent. At present, the first launch of the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System super heavy-lift rocket that would carry it aloft is slated to take place in June of 2020.

“Every time our engineers work on products supporting the Orion spacecraft or the Space Launch System rocket, they have astronaut safety front and center of mind,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake via a company-issued release. “The AA-2 test is a critical step to testing the Launch Abort System and our Jettison Motor and ensuring our astronauts always return home safely to their families.”

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

Blue Origin Push New Shepard Safety Regime with Successful Ninth Test

Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket conducted its ninth test flight on Wednesday with a launch that pushed the vehicle to its limits – in order to satisfy safety parameters, whilst also carrying numerous payloads in the capsule. The launch from Blue Origin’s test site in West Texas occurred at 15:11 UTC – with the test campaign now in the final leg ahead of carrying paying customers.

New Shepard is the first of a potential line of vehicles for Blue Origin. The rocket and crew capsule system is aimed at the suborbital tourism market, allowing paying customers to enjoy into a few minutes of zero-G flight prior to a parachute-assisted landing.

Claims in the media – which haven’t been verified by Blue Origin – note Jeff Bezos’s company is going to charge between $200,000 and $300,000 per ticket for the short suborbital flight.

Read more at: NASA Spaceflight

NASA Could Have People Living on the Moon in 8 Years. And That’s Just the Beginning

The moon is a very patient place. It once was a very busy place. Early in its long history, a constant bombardment of space debris left it with great lava bleeds that formed its so-called seas and tattooed it with thousands of craters that endure today. The shooting eventually stopped and the moon fell quiet, and for billions of years it did more or less nothing at all, while the blue-white, watery world just next door bloomed and thrived and exploded with life.

And then, for a tiny blink of time, the moon hosted life too. Over the course of four years, from December 1968 to December 1972, nine crews of human beings orbited and walked on and even drove on the face of the ancient moon. It was remarkable and improbable and, for the 3.5 billion human beings back home, utterly thrilling. But as suddenly as the visits began, they stopped. The humans left and the quiet resumed.

Read more at: Time

A Comprehensive Guide to the Physics of Running on the Moon

One day humans will have a permanent presence on the moon. Right? One day it’s going to happen. So, how are we going to live on the moon? And maybe a more important question—how are we going to move around there? In preparation for our lunar colony, let me look at three motions that we could do on the moon: jumping, running, and turning.

Let me note that this analysis is inspired by Andy Weir’s recent novel Artemis. I’m not going to spoil the plot except to say there is a girl that moves around on the moon. Weir does a pretty nice job describing what would be different about moving on the moon as compared to the Earth. What is different about the moon compared to the Earth? The biggest difference is the gravitational field on the surface.

Read more at: Wired

Astrobotic Selects Dynetics for Lunar Lander Propulsion System

As Astrobotic prepares to compete for NASA lunar payload delivery contracts, the company has signed an agreement with Dynetics for the last major component of its lunar lander.

Under the teaming agreement announced July 17, Dynetics will provide a main propulsion system for Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander, as well as attitude control thrusters. The companies did not disclose the terms of the deal.

Peregrine will have five 150-pounds-force engines, using hydrazine and mixed oxides of nitrogen (MON) propellants, to send the spacecraft from Earth transfer orbit to the surface of the moon. The lander will also have 12 five-pounds-force attitude control thrusters.

Read more at: Spacenews

Panic in Space can be Deadly. Here’s How Astronauts Train to Stay Alive in Emergencies

It was May 17, 2009, and Astronaut Michael Massimino was lapping Earth at 18,000 miles an hour, sweating up his spacesuit as he struggled to fix the ailing Hubble Space Telescope. A stripped bolt was stopping him from removing a handrail to get at a crucial piece of hardware, and his nerves were fraying.

Massimino fumbled at the bolt repeatedly through thick gloves, but without luck. It seemed that one dumb piece of metal might stymie NASA’s billion-dollar rescue mission — but that’s not how things turned out. He finally managed to pry open the telescope and complete his job before clambering back inside the Space Shuttle Atlantis. Hubble returned to action, going on to snap some of astronomy’s most iconic photos.

Massimino was guided by experts on the ground, as astronauts always are. But his steely resolve in the face of long odds — and his methodical approach to solving a difficult problem while floating weightless in the vacuum of space — was honed by the brutal regimen of survival training he had endured more than a decade earlier.

Read more at: NBC news

NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Test Module for Moon Launch System Passes Flight Simulations

As the Orion spacecraft’s flight computers and communication systems finally powered up, Jon Olansen sent an elated message up the NASA chain of command.

“The crew module has come to life,” he wrote, letting out a sigh of relief.

It was the first time since work began in March that Olansen and his colleagues at NASA’s Johnson Space Center successfully turned on the module, which is a simplified version of the real Orion — being built separately by Lockheed Martin— that will take humans back to the moon for the first time in 50 years.

It “gives us a good, positive feeling about where we are in preparation for launch,” said Olansen, the project’s manager.

Read more at: Houston chronicle

Russia to Launch Serial Production of Angara Carrier Rockets

The serial production of Angara carrier rockets will begin from 2023 at the Polyot Production Association in the West Siberian city of Omsk from 2023, CEO of Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin said on Tuesday.

The entire production process will be moved to the Polyot site in Omsk while only the design bureau will remain on the territory of the Khrunichev Space Center in Moscow, the Roscosmos chief executive said.

“We proceed from the fact that we are approaching the stage of the serial production of Angara rockets at the Omsk manufacturing facilities by 2022-2023. We are shutting down the program and the entire business related to the Proton carrier rocket because it won’t be able to fly any longer from 2025 due to the restrictions imposed on the use of rockets with such a propellant [heptyl],” Rogozin said.

Read more at: TASS

Northrop Grumman’s OA-9 Cygnus Leaves International Space Station

Following two months attached to the International Space Station, the ninth Cygnus resupply spacecraft was unberthed and released from the orbiting outpost to perform a secondary two-week free-flight mission.

The Northrop Grumman (formerly Orbital ATK) OA-9 Cygnus was unberthed in the early-morning hours of July 15, 2018, before being released at 8:37 a.m. EDT (12:37 GMT). Upon departure the cargo ship and ISS were flying 253 miles (407 kilometers) above the southeastern border of Colombia. Expedition 56 flight engineers Serena Aunon-Chancellor of NASA and Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency (two of six people residing at the outpost) were at the controls of the station’s 57.7-foot (17.6-meter) robotic Canadarm2 and commanded it to release the vehicle.

“It was really cool watching Cygnus depart,” said Expedition 56 Flight Engineer Serena Aunon-Chancellor of NASA to Mission Control in Houston. “[It was] almost a little surreal to watch a cargo vehicle like that depart the station and then to see it from a distance and just think this was just a normal day at the office.”

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

Russia May Use ISS Modules in Lunar Gateway Project

Russia may decide to stop the construction of its segment of the International Space Station (ISS) and to use the ordered modules for the Lunar Orbital Platform – Gateway (LOP-G) project, a source in Russia’s rocket and space industry told Sputnik on Wednesday.

“Due to the fact that the ISS operation is planned to be terminated in 2024, and the Russian segment is still not completed, there are proposals to complete its [ISS] creation in the current configuration, and the [Russian] ordered modules will be used to expand Russian participation in the Lunar Orbital Platform – Gateway project,” the source said.

Read more at: Moondaily

CST-100’s Dual Engine Centaur

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Orbital Flight Test dual engine Centaur stage of the Atlas V rocket is in the final stage of production and checkout on May 22, 2018, at ULA’s factory in Decatur, Alabama.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner will launch on its first uncrewed flight test on the ULA Atlas V rocket. The Starliner is being developed and manufactured in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to return human spaceflight capabilities to the U.S.

Read more at: Spaceref

Shields Up! How Spaceships can Save Themselves Without Science Fiction

Thanks to fictional depictions, we tend to think of spaceships as well-fortified machines. But in reality, even in the emptiness of outer space, their hulls would be under threat of bombardment from near-invisible enemies.

In the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises, ships are usually fitted with deflector shields — zones of energy that absorbed beams of enemy fire. The USS Enterprise, for example, could repel an enemy’s colorful phaser blasts by putting its shields up. To increase dramatic tension, those shields generally didn’t hold up for long.

Read more at: Mashable

Seeking 72-hour Space Environment Forecasts with Updates on the Hour

Models for providing hourly terrestrial weather forecasts anywhere in the world have become increasingly precise-our smartphones buzz or chirp with local alerts of approaching thunderstorms, heavy snow, flash floods, and big events like tornados and hurricanes. The military relies on accurate weather forecasts for planning complex operations in the air, on ground, and at sea.

But when it comes to predicting environmental conditions in specific locations within the vast volume of space, no similar forecasting exists. As space launch companies make access to space more affordable and constellations of low-Earth orbit small satellites continue to grow, military and commercial space operators need new tools to track space environmental conditions and their potential impact.

Read more at: Spacedaily

The Sun Shrinks and Grows Again by 2 Kilometres Every 11 years

The sun is growing. And shrinking, and growing again. Every 11 years, the sun’s radius oscillates by up to two kilometres, shrinking when its magnetic activity is high and expanding again as the activity decreases.

We already know that the sun is not a static object. Its surface is regularly covered with darker areas known as sun spots and brighter areas known as flares. The first precise measurements of the sun’s size in the 18th and 19th centuries showed that it appeared to be larger when there were fewer of these.

Read more at: New Scientist

Virgin Galactic Spinoff Orbit to Launch Rockets from the UK with Space Deal

One of Virgin’s space companies is gearing up to launch rockets from the U.K. by 2021.

Virgin Orbit, spun off from Virgin Galactic last year, has sealed a deal with the U.K. Space Agency to launch its LauncherOne rocket via Cosmic Girl, a modified Boeing 747-400 plane.

The deal, signed at the Farnborough Airshow in England, will see Cosmic Girl planes take to the skies from a spaceport at Newquay Airport in Cornwall, southwest England. Virgin said Monday that the agreement meant Orbit would be the first firm to operate flights to space from British soil.

Read more at: CNBC

Rocket Launches Cost Airlines Money and Travelers Precious Time

When temporary no-fly zones appear above US rocket launch sites, airlines end up paying huge fuel costs to fly around them, while passengers have to spend more of their precious time in the air.

In fact, a new study by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University calculates that all the extra fuel required to avoid restricted airspace during rocket launches costs airlines cumulatively between $10,000 and $30,000 per liftoff.

One launch can create a ripple affecting thousands of airline passengers. Last February’s SpaceX launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket delayed 563 airline flights resulting in 62 extra miles added to flights across the southeastern United States, according to a report by the Air Line Pilots Association. Each flight was delayed an average of eight minutes.

Read more at: CNN

Lockheed Selected to Build First UK Spaceport

The U.K. has selected Lockheed Martin to help develop its first domestic commercial spaceport in Melness, Scotland — an effort that could be of interest to the U.S. military as it hunts for a means to launch satellites into orbit.

Lockheed is teamed with Moog, Orbital Micro Systems, the University of Leicester, Surrey Satellite Technology, Satellite Applications Catapult, SCISYS, Lena Space, Reaction Engines and Netherlands Space Office on the project.

The first launch from Melness is scheduled for the “early 2020s,” per Lockheed.

Read more at: Defensse news

Britain Joins the Microlaunch Space Race with a New Rocket and Spaceport

The United Kingdom has entered the race to develop low-cost, high-volume rockets for small satellites. Orbex, a British-based company with subsidiaries and production facilities in Denmark and Germany, announced Monday that it has raised $40 million from public and private sources to develop what it is calling the “Prime” launch vehicle.

The company intends to launch Prime from a new spaceport—also just announced—that will be located in Northern Scotland. This facility would be the first commercial vertical launch site in the United Kingdom and represents a significant investment in rocket infrastructure by the British government after decades of dormancy.

Read more at: Arstechnica

A Two-Dimensional Space Program

Space is three dimensional and orbital mechanics is quite difficult to understand. Beginning in 1957, almost all satellites have been launched into the three-dimensional space about Earth.

Very few satellites have been placed in low-Earth orbit that are equatorial. The reason for this is that most satellite applications require flight over medium to high latitudes in order to surveil populated parts of our planet. However, everything that is flying in orbits that are inclined to the equator are traveling in three-dimensional space.

Three-dimensional flight significantly increases the complexity of motion, operations, maneuvers and launch opportunities. Maneuvers between orbital planes requires extreme amounts of propulsion system propellant.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Printing the Next Generation of Rocket Engines

New technologies, when first introduced, often get applied in traditional ways. For the last several years, aerospace companies have been examining ways to use additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, to aid the production of rocket engines. A prime example of this is Aerojet Rocketdyne, which has been working on printing components of its venerable RL10 engine. In early June, the company announced that a printed copper thrust chamber successfully completed a series of hotfire tests.

For Aerojet, using additive manufacturing helps to reduce the number of parts in engine components, and thus speed up production and lower costs. “You reduce the time to produce that part well in excess of 50 percent,” said Eileen Drake, president and chief executive of Aerojet Rocketdyne, in an April interview. “There’s less labor content, less supplier content, [fewer] parts that you have to put together that could cause an issue.”

Read more at: Spacenews

British Launch Startups Optimistic About Continued Government Support

Despite missing out in a U.K. government competition, early-stage launch vehicle developers in the country remain optimistic about their prospects and ability to win future government support.

The U.K. Space Agency awarded £23.5 million ($30.8 million) to Lockheed Martin and £5.5 million to Orbex July 16 to set up operations at a new spaceport the government will establish in northern Scotland. Orbex, a British-headquartered company, plans to use the funding to help develop its Prime small launch vehicle while Lockheed Martin will use the funding to bring in a vehicle, likely Rocket Lab’s Electron, to the spaceport.

Read more at: Spacenews

Disruption Tolerant Networking to Demonstrate Internet in Space

NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations and Science Mission Directorates are collaborating to make interplanetary internet a reality.

They’re about to demonstrate Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking, or DTN – a technology that sends information much the same way as conventional internet does. Information is put into DTN bundles, which are sent through space and ground networks to its destination.

Unlike the internet, where data packets are discarded when encountering a disconnection, DTN guarantees delivery even if there are interruptions. If the bundle fails to transmit because of unavailable links, DTN stores the bundles and waits until the next communication path opens.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Rapid-fire Engine Tests Raise Hopes for DARPA’s Planned Reusable Spaceplane

A series of unprecedented back-to-back test-firings of a rocket engine originally developed for NASA’s space shuttle concluded earlier this month, giving engineers data crucial to achieving rapid 24-hour turnarounds planned for a U.S. military-funded reusable winged booster under construction at Boeing, government and industry officials said.

A test version of the Aerojet Rocketdyne AR-22 main engine selected to fly on Phantom Express, a Boeing-built spaceplane in development under the management of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, ignited 10 times in 10 days on a test stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

China Developing In-orbit Satellite Transport Vehicle

China is developing a space vehicle to help transport orbiting satellites that have run out of fuel, Science and Technology Daily reported Thursday.

Fuel is a key factor limiting the life of satellites. Most satellites function for years after entering orbit, but eventually, they have to end their missions and burn up into the atmosphere due to fuel exhaustion.

The vehicle is being developed by an academy affiliated to the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. The carrier, instead of refueling the satellite, will use a robotic arm to dock with it, and will then carry the satellite to maintain its original orbit.

Read more at: Xinhuanet

As the SpaceX Steamroller Surges, European Rocket Industry Vows to Resist

White light flooded in through large windows behind Alain Charmeau as he mused about the new age of rocketry. The brilliant sunrise promised another idyllic day in this beach town, but outside the sands remained untroubled by the feet of tourists.

Lamentably, the nearshore waters of this former French colony are chocolate rather than azure, muddied by outflow from the Amazon and other rivers. French Guiana has other compensating assets, however. It lies just 5.3 degrees north of the equator. Neither tropical cyclones nor earthquakes threaten the area. And its coast offers untrammeled access to both the east and north. These natural gifts have helped this remote region become one of the world’s busiest spaceports.

Read more at: Arstechnica

Static Fire Test for Europe’s P120C Rocket Motor

The P120C rocket motor that will be involved with both the Ariane 6 and Vega-C rockets has been static fire tested for the first time at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. The firing occurred early on Monday morning on the BEAP test bench for solid rocket motors, operated by the French space agency CNES.

The P120C is 13.5 meters long and 3.4 meters in diameter, contains 142 tonnes of solid propellant and provides a maximum thrust of 4615 kN (in vacuum) over a burn time of 135 seconds.

“The test lasted 135 seconds simulating the complete burn time from liftoff and through the first phase of flight,” noted ESA after the test. “No anomalies were seen and the performance met expectations, though full analysis will take several months.”

Read more at: NASA Spaceflight

China’s Super-sized Space Plans May Involve Help from Russia

China recently provided the clearest look yet at one of the world’s largest space rockets, the 4,000 ton Long March 9 (LM-9).

Targeted to start flying by 2030, the LM-9 has a diameter of 10 meters, a height of 100 meters, 6000 tons of thrust from four first stage engines, and four booster rockets. With this size and lift, China’s Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) Chief Designer Long Lehao announced that the Long March 9 will be capable of lifting 140 metric tons to low Earth orbit (LEO), 50 tons to Earth-Moon transfer orbit, and 44 tons to Earth-Mars transfer orbit (140 tons is right between the projected lifts of NASA’s Space Launch System (130 tons) and SpaceX’s 150 ton BFR).

Read more at: Popsci

Martian Atmosphere Behaves as One

New research using a decade of data from ESA’s Mars Express has found clear signs of the complex martian atmosphere acting as a single, interconnected system, with processes occurring at low and mid levels significantly affecting those seen higher up.

Understanding the martian atmosphere is a key topic in planetary science, from its current status to its past history. Mars’ atmosphere continuously leaks out to space, and is a crucial factor in the planet’s past, present, and future habitability – or lack of it. The planet has lost the majority of its once much denser and wetter atmosphere, causing it to evolve into the dry, arid world we see today.

However, the tenuous atmosphere Mars has retained remains complex, and scientists are working to understand if and how the processes within it are connected over space and time.

Read more at: ESA

Chinese Space Official Seems Unimpressed with NASA’s Lunar Gateway

This week, the European and Chinese space agencies held a workshop in Amsterdam to discuss cooperation between Europe and China on lunar science missions. The meeting comes as Europe seems increasingly content to work with China on spaceflight programs.

Although the meeting is not being streamed online, space systems designer and lunar exploration enthusiast Angeliki Kapoglou has been providing some coverage of the meeting via Twitter. Among the most interesting things she has shared are slides from a presentation by Pei Zhaoyu, who is deputy director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of the China National Space Administration.

Read more at: Arstechnica

An Alternative Proposal for a Revolution in Hypersonics and Space (part 1)

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich recently penned an op-ed “How to Seize Revolution in Hypersonics and Space.” (Aviation Week Network, June 22, 2018.) I respect Mr. Gingrich’s political instincts and his general support for advancing America’s space enterprise. My critique explains where and why I respectively disagree with some parts of his proposal.

For those unable to access his op-ed article, Mr. Gingrich’s proposal addresses these three areas: a programmatic imperative, a political imperative, and an economic imperative. In this first part of a two-part response, I address the programmatic imperative.

Read more at: Space review

Why there are Sperm Swimming Around at the Space Station

Last week the science onboard the International Space Station got a little sticky when astronauts began experiments with their latest cargo from Earth—samples of human and bull semen.

The material is the centerpiece of a biological study investigating whether sperm can accomplish their reproductive job in space. The study is officially called NASA’s ISS Program Science Office’s brief on the Spaceflight-Altered Motility Activation and Fertility-Dependent Responses in Sperm (Micro-11). Its purpose: If humanity is to spread to other planets, then we might need to make more humans in space.

“The survival of multiple generations of organisms beyond the Earth requires proper function of normal sperm and eggs cells,” the program brief says. “There exists a significant knowledge gap on impacts of spaceflight conditions on the fertility-dependent functions of sperm.”

Read more at: Popular Mechanics

Who Owns the Moon? A Space Lawyer Answers

Most likely, this is the best-known picture of a flag ever taken: Buzz Aldrin standing next to the first U.S. flag planted on the Moon. For those who knew their world history, it also rang some alarm bells. Only less than a century ago, back on Earth, planting a national flag in another part of the world still amounted to claiming that territory for the fatherland. Did the Stars and Stripes on the moon signify the establishment of an American colony?

When people hear for the first time that I am a lawyer practicing and teaching something called “space law,” the question they ask most frequently, often with a big smile or a twinkle in the eye, is: “So tell me, who owns the moon?”

Read more at: Conversation

Bridenstine Discusses ISS Future, Exploration Cooperation in Europe

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said July 17 that he’s had good discussions with European officials here about potential cooperation on NASA’s plans to return to the moon.

In a brief interview after a panel discussion at the Farnborough International Airshow, Bridenstine described the meetings he’s held during the event, including with the heads of the European Space Agency and national space agencies, as “fantastic” and said more details about the agency’s “exploration campaign” plans, such as the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, could be released this fall.

Read more at: Spacenews

Presidential Message on Space Exploration Day

On Space Exploration Day, our Nation celebrates the history of American space travel, and we reaffirm our determination to continue to lead the world in the exploration and development of space.

Nearly half a century ago, with great skill and courage to conquer the unknown, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins led the mission to land the first Americans on the surface of the Moon.  Since then, people around the world have marveled at the technological advancements in space exploration made by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the private sector.

Read more at: Whitehouse

Newt Gingrich: 49 Years Ago we Stepped on the Moon — Now it’s Time to Dream Big Again

Forty-nine years ago Friday, when astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the moon, we had every reason to believe that what he called his “small step” was in fact just the beginning of what he described as “one giant leap for mankind.”

In 1969, it was reasonable to expect that our space program would continue to move at the pace of the Apollo program. It was therefore reasonable to think that by 2018 we would have four to five colonies on the moon, space-based outposts in various lunar and cislunar orbits, mining operations on several asteroids, and a preliminary habitat on Mars.

Read more at: Foxnews

Putin Challenges Roscosmos to “Drastically Improve” on Space and Launch

Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Roscosmos to meet deadlines for the nation’s future Angara, Soyuz-5 and “super-heavy class” rockets while fixing quality-control issues that have dogged Russian spacecraft and launch vehicles in recent years.

According to the Kremlin’s published transcript of Putin’s remarks during a July 18 meeting with the state-run space corporation Roscosmos, Putin said it “is necessary to drastically improve the quality and reliability of space and launch vehicles” and to preserve Russia’s increasingly threatened leadership in space.

Read more at: Spacenews

Space, Not Brexit, is Final Frontier for Scottish Outpost

Never mind Brexit: For a remote peninsula in the Scottish highlands, the buzz is all about hi-tech rocket launchers firing satellites into space. In just three years’ time, rockets will send satellites into orbit from the rugged stretch of coastline, under British government plans unveiled this week.

The sleepy county of Caithness and Sutherland has been selected as the site of the country’s first ever space port, Britain announced at the Farnborough Airshow, a showpiece event for the global aerospace sector.

The UK Space Agency awarded a 2.5-million ($3.3-million, 2.8-million-euro) grant towards the construction of a vertical space port facility in Sutherland, which will become operational in 2021.

Read more at: Yahoo news

UAE Signs Agreement with NASA to Cooperate in Manned Space Flights

The UAE Space Agency has signed an agreement with NASA to cooperate in human space flights. The agreement was signed by UAE Space Agency’s director general, Dr Mohammed Al Ahbabi and Nasa chief Jim Bridenstine on July 18.

The deal has been signed less than one month after UAE’s Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre signed an agreement with Russia’s space agency (ROSCOSMOS) to send the first Emirati to space onboard the Soyuz rocket in April, 2019. A Russian commander, an American engineer will also be on the flight to the International Space Station.

Read more at: Khaleej times

Pentagon Requests Funds for First Offensive Hypersonic Weapons

The Pentagon comptroller has asked the US Congress to shift money from lower-priority defense programs to the US Air Force’s first offensive “hypersonic conventional strike” weapon, according to a Tuesday report.

As part of a process known as an omnibus reprogramming request, the Pentagon requested that Congress allocate precisely $20 million for an air-launched hypersonic attack weapon, which travels five times the speed of sound, a Bloomberg report noted.

The Pentagon also seeks $65 million for a demonstration of a hypersonic weapon fired from ground forces, to happen sooner rather than later.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Russia Preparing Plesetsk Spaceport Infrastructure for Sarmat ICBM Flight Tests

Specialists are preparing infrastructure at the Plesetsk spaceport in north Russia for the flight tests of the promising Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov said on the single military output acceptance day on Friday.

“Work continues to create infrastructure for Yars stationary and mobile [intercontinental ballistic] missile systems and concurrently efforts are underway to prepare the infrastructure of the 1st State Testing Cosmodrome for conducting the flight tests of the promising stationary Sarmat missile system,” he said.

In the first half of this year, the required infrastructure was prepared at the 1st State Testing Cosmodrome in the town of Mirny for the pop-up tests of this missile system, the deputy defense minister said.

Read more at: TASS

Russian Space Agency Confirms Security Agency Search

Russia’s space agency is confirming that federal security agents have searched two of its daughter operations, following a report that their workers were suspected of treason for cooperating with the West.

The respected business newspaper Kommersant reported Friday that a criminal case for treason had been filed in connection with the alleged passing on of information about Russia’s hypersonic rocket development.

The searches were confirmed by space agency spokesman Vladimir Ustimenko to state television, but he said further information would have to come from the Federal Security Service.

Read mroe at: ABC news

Combined Space Operations Center Established at Vandenberg AFB

The Joint Space Operations Center transitioned to a Combined Space Operations Center during a ceremony at Vandenberg Air Force Base, July 18, 2018.

In 2017, Air Force Gen. John Hyten, U.S. Strategic Command commander, directed the transition. It is designed to improve coordination between the U.S., its allies, and commercial and civil partners for defensive space efforts. It will enhance individual and collective space capabilities in order to expand the overall multi-domain military effectiveness.

Air Force Gen. Jay Raymond, Joint Force Space Component Commander and commander of Air Force Space Command, presided over the ceremony.

 “There’s never been a more exciting time for the combined team to come together, said Raymond. “Today’s establishment of the CSpOC is just the beginning, as our CSpOC family will continue to grow as we identify opportunities to work together with like-minded nations.”

Read more at: Afspc

Self-defense in Space: Protecting Russian Spacecraft from ASAT Attacks

During the Cold War the Soviet Union was the only country to have an operational co-orbital anti-satellite (ASAT) system. Called IS (“Satellite Destroyer”), it began test flights in 1963 and reached operational status in the late 1970s. What is less known is that the Soviet Union also worked on technology to defend its space assets from ASAT weapons. This included systems to detect, document, and counter ASAT attacks as well as stealth technology to conceal satellites from attacking vehicles. Much of that effort remains shrouded in secrecy to the present day, but some details have come to light in recent years. Moreover, there is unmistakable evidence that Russia resumed research on satellite defense technology at the beginning of this decade.

Read more at: Space review

Lockheed Martin and Thales Raytheon Systems to provide NATO with Battlespace Intelligence System

Lockheed Martin and ThalesRaytheonSystems are joining forces to provide the NATO Alliance with a territorial Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) command and control capability. This Teaming Agreement, signed in the presence of Raytheon and Thales, the two shareholders of the joint venture, establishes a transatlantic team that combines the depth and breadth of decades of expertise from Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, with the European air command and control capabilities of Thales.

The overall team will include industry representatives from across the Alliance to deliver a low risk capability for NATO’s Air Command and Control BMD program.

Read more at: Space daily

Japan’s Growing Plutonium Stockpile Fuels Fears

Japan has amassed enough plutonium to make 6,000 atomic bombs as part of a programme to fuel its nuclear plants, but concern is growing that the stockpile is vulnerable to terrorists and natural disasters.

Japan has long been the world’s only non-nuclear-armed country with a programme to reprocess spent nuclear fuel from its power plants into plutonium.

On Tuesday a decades-old deal with the United States which allows Japan to reprocess plutonium was renewed, but the pact can be terminated by either side with just six months’ notice.

Read more at: Space war

The Oral History of Apollo 11

It was the most famous step in history. When Neil Armstrong’s boot first touched lunar soil on July 20, 1969, the event was celebrated worldwide as a triumph for humankind. And yet the hazy television images broadcast from space failed to convey the true audacity—the enormous risks, the technological complexity, the intricate teamwork—of the mission that put two Americans on the moon.

Popular Mechanics set out to document the full and unvarnished story. July 16, 1969, marks the first day of the historic mission. Here, sleepless news correspondents and operations engineers, flight directors and astronauts take us to the point where the rocket clears the tower and responsibility shifts from Launch Control at Cape Kennedy to Mission Control in Houston for the crew’s coast to the moon.

Read more at: Popular Mechanics

Welcome to the Era of Orbital Publicity Stunts

In January a company called Rocket Lab secretly added an extra point of light to the night sky. Dubbed the Humanity Star, it was a faceted carbon-fiber sphere parked in low Earth orbit, designed to twinkle as it caught the sun’s rays, thus creating a “shared experience for everyone on the planet.”

Astronomers were not amused. Some saw it as a publicity stunt, confirming their worst fears about private spaceflight. What’s next, they fumed, billboards in space? (Two weeks later, Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched a Tesla Roadster into solar orbit.) Others called it vandalism. The epithet that stuck was space graffiti.

In truth, the Humanity Star posed no real threat to astronomy, and it soon fell out of orbit, as planned. But the image of a giant disco ball hung in the firmament—that icon of humanity at its silliest and most joyful—raised questions that won’t go away: Why are we indignant over an orbiting objet d’art but not over, say, yet another TV satellite? Are science and commerce the only legitimate pursuits off-planet—and who gets to decide?

Read more at: Wired

Only a dozen men have walked on the surface of the moon, and this Friday marks the 49th anniversary of the groundbreaking Apollo 11 moon landing mission. Of the 12 Americans who have set foot on the moon, only four are still alive.

From Apollo 11, the first lunar mission on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took that giant leap for mankind.

Armstrong, an astronaut and aeronautical engineer, retired from NASA in 1971, and served as a corporate spokesperson for several businesses. Though he had a reputation for being reclusive, Armstrong spoke at public events, hosted a science series and taught college.

Armstrong died in 2012 at age 82.

Read more at: Inside edition

Damien Chazelle’s ‘First Man’ with Ryan Gosling to Open 75th Venice Film Festival

Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle’s space race drama “First Man” will open the 75th annual Venice International Film Festival, Variety has learned. The film will unspool on Wednesday, Aug. 29.

This will mark the second opening-night Venice bow for Chazelle. His previous film, “La La Land,” kicked off the fest in 2016 before cruising into the awards season and tying the all-time Oscar nominations record. Chazelle ultimately won the best-director prize at the Academy Awards, while Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” walked away with best picture.

Read more at: Variety

‘About Once a Day’: Remembering the Dual Launches of Apollo-Soyuz

In spite of political differences, the United States and Russia have enjoyed more than two decades of continuous collaboration, high above the Home Planet, through the shuttle-Mir effort and 20 years of International Space Station (ISS) operations. Against many odds, these two superpowers—which once (and still do) view each other with mistrust through the lens of differing political ideologies—have forged an enduring partnership in low-Earth orbit. Yet the seeds of that partnership had been laid many years before shuttle-Mir or the ISS, back in July 1975, when America and the then-Soviet Union emerged briefly from the “deep cold” of the Cold War and staged a manned space mission together. Even today, the “Apollo-Soyuz Test Project” (ASTP) remains one of the most remarkable endeavors of international co-operation ever undertaken.

Read more at: America space

“Safe Passage to Mars” Design Challenge

“Safe Passage to Mars” is a design challenge for undergraduate students. Enabling safe space exploration of Moon, Mars and beyond requires the application of the concepts of Engineering Psychology to design and build hardware (tools, devices, or equipment) which can mitigate critical human performance issues associated with long-duration spaceflight.

Read more at: ISSF

10th IAASS Conference

15 – 17 May 2019 – Los Angeles, USA

The tenth IAASS Conference “Making Safety Happen” is an invitation to reflect and exchange information on a number of topics in space safety and sustainability of national and international interest. The conference is also a forum to promote mutual understanding, trust, and the widest possible international cooperation in such matters. The once exclusive “club” of nations with autonomous space access capabilities is becoming crowded with fresh, and ambitious new entrants. New commercial spaceports and near-spaceports are in operations and others are being built.

Read more at: IAASS Conference