Preserving Astronaut Safety

Space exploration in the 21st century offers the possibility to reach new frontiers, from developing a lunar gateway for deep space travel, returning American astronauts to the surface of the Moon and eventually putting humans on Mars.

With NASA preparing to return crewed astronaut launches to the United States for the first time since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011 and return astronauts to deep space for the first time since the end of the Apollo program in 1972, we are on the cusp of an exciting new era in human spaceflight and exploration.

As we prepare to launch new crewed spacecraft over the next several years, we need to honor the lessons learned from the tragedies of Apollo I, Challenger and Columbia. To successfully reach these next milestones in exploration, it is critical that core safety priorities continue to protect American astronauts and avoid unnecessary risks beyond those inherent to all launches and spaceflight.

Read more at: Washington Times

Boeing Suffers Anomaly During Starliner Test of Launch Abort Engines in New Mexico

Boeing’s spacecraft slated to take crews and cargo to and from the International Space Station under a NASA contract suffered an anomaly last month during a test in New Mexico, the aerospace giant has confirmed.

The CST-100 Starliner spacecraft’s launch abort system, which is designed to rapidly propel the spacecraft away from a rocket in the event of an emergency, was put through its paces last month at the White Sands Test Facility and its engines fired for the full duration of the demonstration without issue – until shutdown.

“During engine shutdown an anomaly occurred that resulted in a propellant leak,” Boeing said in a statement to FLORIDA TODAY. “We have been conducting a thorough investigation with assistance from our NASA and industry partners.”

Read more at: Florida Today

A Toxic Fuel Leak On Boeing’s Spacecraft Will Ground US Astronauts A Little Longer

Dripping toxic chemicals fouled an attempt to test the rocket engines on a Boeing spacecraft designed to replace the space shuttle and carry astronauts to the International Space Station next year.

The anomaly validates warnings that neither Boeing nor its rival SpaceX will be able to field operational spacecraft in time to maintain a steady flow of astronauts to the orbital lab next year, which NASA officials say could put the station in danger. The US space agency is paying the two private companies more than $6.5 billion to develop low-cost, reliable space transportation for people.

Read more at: QZ

Range Safety at the Guiana Space Centre – CNES Selects Zodiac Data Systems to Supply Autonomous Range Safety System

As the operator of the Guiana Space Centre (CSG), CNES is responsible on behalf of the French government for assuring the safety of people and property on each launch from the base, a task that involves being able to track launchers very precisely at all times so that a flight can be terminated if it poses a risk. This tracking function is currently accomplished by a suite of radars.

A first version of the KASSAV1 autonomous range safety system set to enter service in 2019 will enable more precise tracking of launchers. A second version will subsequently provide the ability for launch vehicles to make flight termination decisions autonomously in the event of a major anomaly. KASSAV will thus reduce the launch base’s operating costs because fewer radars will be needed and turnarounds between launches will be faster, while also improving safety.

Read more at: CNES

A Large Body of Water on Mars is Detected, Raising the Potential for Alien Life

For the first time, scientists have found a large, watery lake beneath an ice cap on Mars. Because water is essential to life, the discovery offers an exciting new place to search for life-forms beyond Earth.

Italian scientists working on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express mission announced on Wednesday that a 12-mile-wide underground liquid pool — not just the momentary damp spots seen in the past — had been detected by radar measurements near the Martian south pole.

“Water is there,” Enrico Flamini, the former chief scientist of the Italian Space Agency who oversaw the research, said during a news conference. “It is liquid, and it’s salty, and it’s in contact with rocks,” he added. “There are all the ingredients for thinking that life can be there, or can be maintained there if life once existed on Mars.”

Read more at: NY Times

Spacex’s Latest Rocket-Recovery Gambit Misses

After a launch Wednesday morning, the company tried again to land the rocket’s multi-million-dollar nose cone on a crew boat in the Pacific Ocean. But SpaceX confirmed it was a miss, and strong winds at sea were a factor. The core mission was a success. The Falcon 9 rocket deployed ten satellites into orbit for communications company Iridium (IRDM).

The nose cone, or fairing, rests on the top of the rocket, and it acts as a shield for the satellites during launch. Once the rocket is in space, it splits into two and falls away. After most rocket launches, fairings are left to plummet back to Earth where the ocean becomes its graveyard.

SpaceX’s goal is to safely recapture the fairing before it crashes into the Pacific, with the hope of refurbishing it for use on a future flight and raising the company’s bottom line.

Read more at: CNN

We’ll Soon Have Ten Times More Satellites in Orbit – Here’s What That Means

The Iridium-7 mission has successfully launched from the Vandenberg air force base in California, placing the latest ten satellites from the American company’s second-generation network into orbit. Deployed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Iridium now has 65 new NEXT satellites in the sky, just one away from the intended total. The plan is to be fully operational by the autumn.

Iridium provides satellite phone services and other communications support to everyone from the US government to airlines, from mining companies to mountaineers. With around 500,000 billable subscribers on the books, the company aims to drive that upwards with the new network. It will offer enhanced connectivity and broadband speeds for a whole range of customers eager for secure data and communications in hard-to-access areas. It is also seen as having an important role to play in helping machines talk to one another in the Internet of Things, including driverless cars.

Read more at: Conversation

Senate Bill Puts DOT in Charge of Non-traditional Space Regulations, Extends ISS to 2030

A new Senate bill, the Space Frontier Act, would put the Department of Transportation (DOT) rather than the Department of Commerce (DOC) in charge of authorizing non-governmental space activities not already regulated under other federal law.  It is at odds with legislation in the House and space policy directives signed by President Trump.  The legislation would also keep the International Space Station (ISS) operating until 2030 instead of 2025 as the Trump Administration proposed.

The bill, S. 3277, has bipartisan co-sponsors:  Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA).  Cruz chairs the Space, Science, and Competitiveness subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.  Markey is the top Democrat (“Ranking Member”) on that subcommittee.  Nelson is the Ranking Member on the full committee.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

National Space Council to Develop a Microgravity Strategy

Jared Stout was working on U.S. Rep. Sandy Adam’s staff in 2011, when the Space Shuttle program ended without a replacement. That was a difficult time for Stout’s friends and neighbors on Florida’s Space Coast.

“A lot of people left Florida, left the Space Coast and left NASA,” said Stout, who now serves as National Space Council deputy executive secretary and chief of staff. “They will never return.”

As the Trump Administration looks ahead to the future of low Earth orbit, “we are bound and determined  to ensure that never happens again,” Stout said July 26 at the International Space Station Research & Development conference here. “The scientists, engineers, technicians and support staff that make the International Space Station program run are national assets that must be protected and transitioned in a way that ensures we do not lose their expertise.”

Read more at: Spacenews

After 25 years, Military Told to Move from “Expendable” to “Reusable” Rockets

Less than a year and a half has passed since SpaceX first flew a used first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket, but this achievement has already shaken up the glacial process of lawmaking and military budgeting. The final version of the defense budget bill for fiscal year 2019 will make both a symbolic and a significant policy change when it comes to reusable rockets.

The conference report from the US House and Senate calls for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program of the Department of Defense, commonly known as the EELV program, to be named the “National Security Space Launch program” as of March 1, 2019. No longer will the military rely solely on expendable rockets.

Read more at: Arstechnica

From a Space Station in Argentina, China Expands Its Reach in Latin America

The giant antenna rises from the desert floor like an apparition, a gleaming metal tower jutting 16 stories above an endless wind-whipped stretch of Patagonia.

The 450-ton device, with its hulking dish embracing the open skies, is the centerpiece of a $50 million satellite and space mission control station built by the Chinese military.

The isolated base is one of the most striking symbols of Beijing’s long push to transform Latin America and shape its future for generations to come — often in ways that directly undermine the United States’ political, economic and strategic power in the region. The station began operating in March, playing a pivotal role in China’s audacious expedition to the far side of the moon — an endeavor that Argentine officials say they are elated to support.

Read more at: NY Times

Virgin Galactic Leaves Disaster Behind in Race to Space

In its third supersonic test flight, Virgin Galactic finally hit the mesosphere en route to its goal: suborbital weightlessness. The mesosphere is above the stratosphere and extends to about 50 miles altitude—just beyond which scientists say is the border between atmosphere and space.

On Thursday, Virgin’s VSS Unity spacecraft reached almost 171,000 feet and a speed of Mach 2.5 (more than 1,900 mph), thanks to a 42-second rocket-engine burn. It’s the latest step upward as Virgin Galactic pushes each flight to greater altitudes and speeds, and founder Richard Branson looks to stay relevant as billionaire brethren Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos build their own space empires.

Read more at: Bloomberg

NASA Will Announce Commercial Crew Astronaut Picks

Boeing’s Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft will soon have their first riders: NASA plans to announce on Aug. 3 the astronauts assigned to the test flights and maiden voyages of the agency’s commercial crew program.

NASA will air the event live from Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston starting at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT), where NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will introduce the astronauts. JSC Director Mark Geyer and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana, as well as representatives from SpaceX and Boeing, will also be involved, NASA officials said in a statement. The program will reveal the astronauts assigned to each of the companies’ crewed test flights and their first missions to the space station, which will all launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Read more at: Space.com

Space Tourism Economics – Financing and Regulating Trips to the Final Frontier

American engineer and businessman Dennis Tito paid US$20m in 2001 to become the world’s first official space tourist. He travelled to the International Space Station (ISS) on a Russian Soyuz capsule and then spent eight days on board, prompting some debate about the appropriateness of using the facility for financial gain. Since Tito, six other commercial passengers have visited the ISS – each on Soyuz spacecraft at US$20m a piece. The last of these travelled in 2009, after which the Russians halted the practice. But now commercial space travel, albeit at a lower orbit, is set to start again with a price tag that even the average multi-millionaire might be able to afford.

To the ordinary person, commercial space travel may seem like a pipe dream, but at an embryonic level a few well-funded space companies are creaking into action. Jeff Bezos has announced that a passenger flying with his aerospace company, Blue Origin, will pay between US$200,000 and US$300,000 for a ticket – comparable to Virgin Galactic’s proposed price of US$250,000. Passengers will experience weightlessness for three to six minutes, and enjoy unparalleled views of the stars and the curvature of the Earth.

Read more at: Conversation

What can NASA do to Better Protect the Planets it Probes?

NASA’s policies to protect solar system objects against earthly contaminants need significant updates, according to a new report. The report, released in early July, was compiled by a committee of the Space Studies Board (SSB) of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.

In the report, the committee emphasized that many current policies concerning robotic and human exploration are governed by outdated protocols, some of which were issued during the Apollo era 50 years ago. Since then, however, we’ve discovered that the most tenacious microbes can survive extended time in the vacuum of space, that water is pervasive throughout much of the solar system, and that more places may be capable of supporting life than we knew before.

Read more at: EOS

The Cosmic Radiation Forecast Could Be Bad for a Human Mars Mission

There’s something strange going on with the sun. The theory—admittedly a controversial one—is that we’re entering a grand minimum, in which the sun’s spot cycle fizzles out and cosmic radiation becomes more pervasive. We haven’t seen one since the Space Age began.

Sunspots are areas where “intense magnetic flux” has pushed up to the star’s surface, manifesting in storms whose numbers wax and wane over an 11-year cycle. At their most active, they boost the sun’s magnetic field, which envelops planets and protects them from the perils of galactic cosmic rays—charged particles from long-dead stars. Periodically, the sunspot cycle seems to fade entirely, and few or no spots show up for decades. If that happens, and we find ourselves in a grand minimum, says Scott McIntosh, a solar researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., the sun’s magnetic umbrella “will be made of Swiss cheese.”

Read more at: Bloomberg

Revised Space Weather Bill Clears House Committee

The House Science, Space, and Technology (SS&T) Committee approved a new version of space weather legislation yesterday.  It is significantly different from the bill that passed the Senate last year and another that was introduced in the House. The goal of codifying government agency roles and responsibilities for space weather research and forecasting remains the same, but the new bill designates the National Space Council as the coordinating entity and establishes a pilot program for obtaining space weather data from the commercial sector.

Space weather refers to ejections from the Sun — Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) and solar wind — that can overload systems on Earth and in orbit that are critical to daily life, such as the electric grid or communications and navigation satellites.

Read more at: Spacepolicy Online

Latest Blue Origin Launch Tests Space Exploration Technologies

Blue Origin successfully launched its New Shepard rocket on July 18 from the company’s West Texas launch site with five NASA-supported technologies onboard. The flight helped researchers collect critical data to help them confirm theories, refine previous results and fine-tune experiments for future testing.

Selected for flight test by NASA’s Flight Opportunities, many of the payloads on this New Shepard flight aim to provide value to other payloads on future flights.

A sensor package developed at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will help measure critical data such as acceleration, pressure, temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide levels and acoustic levels within a suborbital vehicle in flight. SFEM-2 stands for Suborbital Flight Experiment Monitor-2. It was flown once before on Blue Origin in April 2018.

Read more at: NASA

Tsar-rocket: Russia Starts Developing Ultra-heavy Soyuz-5 Launch Vehicle

Russia has commenced work on the Soyuz-5 rocket, expected to become an ultra-heavy vehicle for future space exploration missions, Roscosmos head has announced.

A number of Russia’s flagship research and development centers began working on Soyuz-5 project, Roscosmos’ Director-General Dmitry Rogozin said on Twitter. The process would “mobilize all space industry, refresh it and utilize our strong development and production capabilities.”

The first flight model of the Soyuz-5 is likely to be ready by 2022, and the first mock-up model of the rocket has been unveiled at MAKS International Aviation and Space Show back in 2015.

Sources say the 62-meter-long Soyuz-5 is drafted as a medium-capacity launcher with a takeoff mass of about 270 tons. It will replace the lighter Soyuz-2 and will be capable of delivering 9 tons to a low orbit, three times as much as the latest Soyuz-2.1b can do now.

Read more at: RT

Successful Ariane 5 Launch Fills Out European Navigation Fleet

The final flight of a discontinued version of Europe’s Ariane 5 rocket added four more spacecraft to Europe’s Galileo navigation constellation Wednesday, giving the multibillion-euro network enough satellites to remain on track for the start of full global service in 2020.

Launching with an older, out-of-production upper stage fed by toxic, storable hydrazine fuel, the 155-foot-tall (47-meter) Ariane 5 ES rocket ignited is Vulcain 2 main engine at 1125:01 GMT (7:25:01 a.m. EDT; 8:25:01 a.m. French Guiana time) from the Guiana Space Center on the northeastern shore of South America.

Seven seconds later, twin solid rocket boosters fired in unison to send the Ariane 5 launcher into a clear morning sky over the spaceport in French Guiana. The boosters’ steerable nozzles guided the rocket toward the northeast, and the strap-on motors burned their solid propellant and jettisoned around 2 minutes, 19 seconds, after liftoff.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Russia’s Khrunichev Center Develops Concept of Reusable Rocket

Russia’s Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center has finished the development of a blueprint for Russia’s reusable launch vehicle and sent the relevant materials to Roscosmos’ Central Research Institute of Machine Building (TsNIIMash) for assessment, the Khrunichev center’s press office told Sputnik.

“The materials on reusable subjects were sent to TsNIIMash. They should study them and provide their expert opinion,” a spokesperson for the space center said. Earlier it was reported that the Khrunichev Center is carrying out design research works on carrier rockets with reusable first stage. Various schemes to reuse rockets are being considered, including the vertical landing, the parachute-jet rescue system and the winged scheme of the reusable part of the rocket.

Read more at: Sputnik news

An Alternative Proposal for a Revolution in Hypersonics and Space (part 2)

The Honorable Newt Gingrich recently penned an op-ed “How to Seize Revolution in Hypersonics and Space.”(Aviation Week Network, June 22, 2018.) Gingrich’s proposal addresses these three areas: a programmatic imperative, a political imperative, and an economic imperative. In this final part of a two-part response, I address the political and economic imperatives.

To boost the prospects of Congress supporting the proposed spaceplane and hypersonics initiative, Gingrich has searched for a way to increase congressional support. In this quest, he is reaching out to the Aerospace States Association to gain their support by inferring that the initiative will enable all states to build spaceports. I believe this inference is impractical to be realized while we are still using conventional chemical propulsion. The primary limitation is the safety of the non-involved public—the people on the ground.

Read more at: Space review

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: NZ Herald

Spaceport Violated Open Government Law, AG’s Office Says

The New Mexico Spaceport Authority violated an open government law several times in its responses to a news website’s efforts to investigate Spaceport America in 2017, the state attorney general’s office has determined. NMPolitics.net editor and publisher Heath Haussamen filed the complaints against the spaceport in September 2017. On Thursday, Assistant Attorney General Dylan K. Lange identified four violations of the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act in the determination letter.

Read more at: lcsun

Senators Insist Mars, Not the Moon is the Goal of US Human Exploration

Republican and Democrats on the Senate space subcommittee insisted that the goal for NASA’s human spaceflight program is Mars, not the Moon, at a hearing yesterday.  President Trump formally restored the Moon to NASA’s plans in December and NASA’s FY2019 budget request reflects that change.  The Senators raised no objections as long as it does not distract from what they consider the primary goal —  landing humans on Mars in the 2030s.

Many congressional hearings have been held over the decades about why and when to land humans on Mars. “Destination Mars: Putting American Boots on the Surface of the Red Planet” broke no new ground on those topics.

Read more at: Spacepolicy Online

Intercept Sets Distance Record for Lockheed Martin’s Hit-to-Kill PAC-3 MSE

A Lockheed Martin PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) interceptor successfully intercepted an Air-Breathing Threat (ABT) in a test at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

The test marked the furthest distance a PAC-3 MSE missile has intercepted an ABT, which represents fixed-wing aircraft or cruise missiles.

The U.S. Army-led missile defense flight test demonstrated the unique Hit-to-Kill capability of the PAC-3 family of missiles, which defends against threats through body-to-body contact. The test also reconfirmed PAC-3 MSE’s ability to detect, track and intercept incoming ABTs or missiles. The test was observed by representatives from the U.S. Army and a current Foreign Military Sales PAC-3 MSE customer.

Read more at: Space Daily

Air Force Gets First Real Look At Future ICBM Designs

Boeing and Northrop Grumman have presented design options to the U.S. Air Force for a new intercontinental ballistic missile. The companies are pitted in a head-to-head competition to build hundreds of ICBMs that will replace decades-old Minuteman 3 missiles.

Both firms recently discussed their proposed ideas with Air Force leaders as the service faces a 2019 deadline to specify requirements and map out a procurement strategy for the ground-based strategic deterrent, or GBSD.

The companies submitted what is known as “trade studies” to help the Air Force draft program requirements before it releases a final “request for proposals” possibly a year from now.

Read more at: Spacenews

No GPS? No Problem, There Are Increasingly More Options

he Pentagon is spending tens of billions of dollars on a new constellation of more secure GPS satellites and a stronger anti-jam signal in anticipation of a future conflict where adversaries will try to disrupt access to this critical global navigation system.

But even as the military is counting on a modernized GPS to be more resilient to electronic attacks, it is eyeing alternative means to get vital positioning, navigation and timing data, just in the event that GPS is denied.

“People don’t realize how weak the signal is,” said Kaigham “Ken” Gabriel, president and CEO of Draper Laboratories, a non-profit research and development firm with U.S. military and NASA contracts.

Read more at: Spacenews

Air Force And NASA Look To Collaborate On Deep Space Medicine

Representatives from NASA recently visited David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base, California, — one of the largest hospitals in the United States — in order to establish collaboration on studying medicine for deep space exploration, as well as warfighters here on Earth.

In early June, the U.S. space agency provided a presentation on manned deep space missions and how medical researchers at Travis AFB fit into their long-term vision, according to a unit press release.

“NASA is being chartered to come up with medical capabilities for long-term exploration,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Leonardo Tato, director of the Clinical Investigation Facility, or CIF, within the 60th Medical Support Squadron. “Currently, their medical capacities are based on their mission to 230 miles low orbit.”

Read more at: Airforce times

Congress Fails to Fund Trump’s ‘Space Force’ in Defense Budget Bill

On the same day he touted the “Space Force” to veterans, President Donald Trump’s plan to create a sixth military branch hit a roadblock in Congress.

A House-Senate conference committee working on the $716 billion defense budget for fiscal 2019, which begins Oct. 1, left out money to start building the Space Force.

Earlier Tuesday, in address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Kansas City, Trump cited the Space Force as part of an unrivaled military buildup under his administration.

Read more at: Military

Alaska Launch Shrouded in Secrecy

A secretive California company carried out a suborbital launch from an Alaska spaceport July 20, but a week after the event few details about the event are clear, including its outcome.

Astra Space carried out a launch at 6 p.m. Eastern July 20 of its “Rocket 1” vehicle from Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska on Kodiak Island, Alaska. Foggy conditions made it difficult to observe the launch, according to one local reporter covering the event.

Astra Space received a license from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) in March for a suborbital test flight of its vehicle. According to the license, the launch would carry an inert upper stage on a trajectory traveling to the south. The FAA also issued a notice to airmen restricting airspace in the vicinity of the launch site from July 14 to 21 “due to rocket launch.”

Read more at: Spacenews

U.S. STRATCOM To Take Over Responsibility For Nuclear Command, Control And Communications

After a months-long review, the Pentagon has decided that U.S. Strategic Command should be solely in charge of the classified communications system that keeps the president connected to military forces during a nuclear event.

The review was prompted by concerns that the nation’s nuclear command, control and communications systems, or NC3, was not under a single chain of command. Officials also have warned that the technology is outdated and that there is no clear plan to modernize it.

“The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has appointed the commander of U.S. Strategic Command to be the NC3 enterprise lead, with increased responsibilities for operations, requirements, and systems engineering and integration,” U.S. STRATCOM spokeswoman Maj. Meghan Liemburg-Archer said on Monday in an email to SpaceNews.

Read more at: Spacenews

Detectives Harbor No Suspicions On Head Of Space Research Institute Rocked By Spy Scandal

Investigators harbor no suspicions on current CEO of the Central Research Institute of Machine-Building (TsNIImash) Oleg Gorshkov as the high treason case relates to the 2013 events while he came to head the organization in 2015, the TsNIImash press office told TASS on Monday.

TsNIImash is the parent research institute of Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos.

Roscosmos Spokesman Vladimir Ustimenko told TASS earlier on Monday that a commission set up by the state space corporation will start work this week to probe the activity of the TsNIImash. The commission, which is led by Roscosmos Deputy CEO Sergei Dyomin, has been set up after some staffers of Roscosmos’s central research institute were accused of leaking state secrets to Western intelligence services.

Read more at: TASS

Is Elon Musk Too Volatile to Run Tesla and SpaceX?

Elon Musk has had an interesting few months in the public spotlight, from arguing over royalties for a farting unicorn to accusing a national hero of being a pedophile on Twitter. His behavior within the boardroom seems equally unusual. In a slightly bizarre May conference call, he told investors in Tesla that if they “are concerned about volatility, they should definitely not buy our stock.” To no one’s surprise, Tesla’s share price fell sharply.

While investors are justified in worrying about the volatility of the Tesla share price, the more important question may be whether Musk himself is too volatile to run Tesla and SpaceX, the very companies that he founded. Would removing their high-profile CEO be the right move?

Read more at: Fortune

Scientists Come Up With Revised ‘Rio Scale’ To Rate Claims Of Extraterrestrial Contact

For almost 60 years, efforts to pick up signs of extraterrestrial civilizations have yielded a big fat zero, but there have been plenty of false alarms to contend with.

To provide a reality check, the International Academy of Astronautics adopted a 1-to-10 rating system for claims of contact, known as the Rio scale, back in the early 2000s. Now a group of astronomers is proposing a “Rio 2.0” scale that brings the reality check up to date.

They hope Rio 2.0 will serve the same purpose in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, that the magnitude scale serves for earthquakes, the Fujita scale serves for tornadoes, and the Torino scale serves for asteroids.

Read more at: Geekwire

Japanese Prosecutors Raid JAXA Facilities In Connection With Second Education Ministry Bribes Case

Prosecutors on Friday raided locations linked to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) after arresting a senior education ministry official earlier on a bribery charge.

The graft scandal is the second to hit the education ministry in a month.

Kazuaki Kawabata, the ministry’s former director-general for international affairs, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of taking bribes in the form of wining and dining to a former consultancy executive in return for a favor.

Read more at: Japan times

‘Whatever Was Needed’: Remembering the Hair-Raising Rise to Orbit of STS-93

Almost two decades ago, on 23 July 1999, the first woman ever to lead a space mission was launched aboard shuttle Columbia to deliver NASA’s $1.5 billion Chandra X-ray Observatory into a highly elliptical orbit. Chandra represented the third in a quartet of “Great Observatories”—which also includes the Hubble and Spitzer telescopes, together with the long-since-deorbited Compton Gamma Ray Observatory—to be delivered to space for studies of our astronomical backyard across virtually the entire electromagnetic spectrum. The demands for Commander Eileen Collins, Pilot Jeff Ashby and Mission Specialists Catherine “Cady” Coleman, Steve Hawley and Michel Tognini on STS-93 were high, with a shuttle launch long regarded as the most hazardous phase of the flight. Not until Columbia actually left the pad, however, did they realize how hazardous it really was.

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