Large Asteroid to Safely Pass Earth on Sept. 1
Asteroid Florence, a large near-Earth asteroid, will pass safely by Earth on Sept. 1, 2017, at a distance of about 4.4 million miles, (7.0 million kilometers, or about 18 Earth-Moon distances). Florence is among the largest near-Earth asteroids that are several miles in size; measurements from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and NEOWISE mission indicate it’s about 2.7 miles (4.4 kilometers) in size.
“While many known asteroids have passed by closer to Earth than Florence will on September 1, all of those were estimated to be smaller,” said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “Florence is the largest asteroid to pass by our planet this close since the NASA program to detect and track near-Earth asteroids began.”
Read more at: NASA
Cosmic-ray Detector Heads to the International Space Station
NASA has launched a space-based probe that will study the origins of highly energetic particles, known as cosmic rays. Sent into space by a Space X rocket yesterday, the Cosmic Ray Energetics And Mass for the International Space Station (ISS-CREAM) will now be installed on the Japanese Experiment Module, where it will study cosmic rays for three years.
Cosmic rays zoom through space at nearly the speed of light and consist of a range of particles from protons to carbon atoms. When cosmic rays enter the Earth’s atmosphere they collide with another particle setting off a cascade of secondary particles. While Earth-bound detectors only see the secondary particles, a probe that is above Earth’s atmosphere will be able to spot the primary particles.
Read more at: Physics world
NASA Protects its Superheroes from Space Weather
It’s not a bird or a plane but it might be a solar storm. We like to think of astronauts as our superheroes, but the reality is astronauts are not built like Superman who gains strength from the sun. In fact, much of the energy radiating from the sun is harmful to us mere mortals.
Outside Earth’s protective magnetic field and atmosphere, the ionizing radiation in space will pose a serious risk to astronauts as they travel to Mars. High-energy galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) which are remnants from supernovas and solar storms like solar particle events (SPEs) and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from the sun can cause harm to the body and spacecraft. These are all components of space weather.
Read more at: NASA
Ten Spacecraft Track Solar Storm Through Space
Ten spacecraft, from ESA’s Venus Express to NASA’s Voyager-2, felt the effect of a solar eruption as it washed through the solar system while three other satellites watched, providing a unique perspective on this space weather event.
Scientists working on ESA’s Mars Express were looking forward to investigating the effects of the close encounter of Comet Siding Spring on the Red Planet’s atmosphere on October 19, 2014, but instead they found what turned out to be the imprint of a solar event.
While this made the analysis of any comet-related effects far more complex than anticipated, it triggered one of the largest collaborative efforts to trace the journey of an interplanetary coronal mass ejection – a CME – from the sun to the far reaches of the outer solar system.
Read more at: Colorado Spacenews
Beyond HAL: How Artificial Intelligence is Changing Space Systems
Mars 2020 is an ambitious mission. NASA plans to gather 20 rock cores and soil samples within 1.25 Mars years, or about 28 Earth months — a task that would be impossible without artificial intelligence because the rover would waste too much time waiting for instructions.
It currently takes the Mars Science Laboratory team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory eight hours to plan daily activities for the Curiosity rover before sending instructions through NASA’s over-subscribed Deep Space Network. Program managers tell the rover when to wake up, how long to warm up its instruments and how to steer clear of rocks that damage its already beat-up wheels.
Mars 2020 will need far more autonomy. “Missions are paced by the number of times the ground is in the loop,” said Jennifer Trosper, Mars Science Laboratory mission manager. “The more the rover can do on its own, the more it can get done.”
Read more at: Space News
Public-private Space Ventures Need Oversight
Public-private partnerships in space travel hold much promise, and greater cost-efficiency, but government should be transparent about the risks and inevitable failures.
On Monday, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, better known as SpaceX, conducted a successful launch of a resupply mission to the International Space Station, or ISS, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with the company’s reusable Falcon 9 rocket returning safely to SpaceX’s landing zone at Cape Canaveral. It was the company’s 12th resupply mission, and its 14th successful rocket recovery.
Read more at: Dailynews
NASA’s Rocket to Nowhere Finally has a Destination
On a thursday afternoon in June, a 17-foot-tall rocket motor—looking like something a dedicated amateur might fire off—stood fire-side-up on the salty desert of Promontory, Utah. Over the loudspeakers, an announcer counted down. And with the command to fire, quad cones of flame flew from the four inverted nozzles and grew toward the sky. As the smoke rose, it cast a four-leaf clover of shadow across the ground.
This was a test of the launch abort motor, a gadget built to carry NASA astronauts away from a rocket gone wrong. Made in Utah by a company called Orbital ATK, it’s part of the Space Launch System: the agency’s next generation space vehicle, meant to ferry humans and cargo into deep space. NASA has tasked Orbital ATK—and other contractors like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Aerojet Rocketdyne—with building SLS and its crew capsule for the kinds of missions NASA hasn’t undertaken since the Apollo days.
Read more at: Wired
Can the Quest to Produce Fresh Food in Space Achieve Liftoff?
To see the next frontier for food, you may want to look to the stars. With humans now hoping to establish colonies on the moon, on Mars and in the stars beyond, researchers are focusing on ways to produce fresh food in space that will look, smell and taste like the edibles we have on the home planet.
Read more at: SF Chronicle
US Air Force Prepping Mysterious X-37B Space Plane for September Launch
The United States Air Force’s X-37B program is readying its next robotic mini-shuttle for launch, this time atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The liftoff is scheduled to take place in early September, according to media reports.
Capt. Annmarie Annicelli, a U.S. Air Force spokeswoman, told Inside Outer Space: “At this time, I do not have the launch date to release.” The upcoming X-37B mission — which is known as Orbital Test Vehicle-5 (OTV-5) — will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Read more at: Space.com
Vostochny Cosmodrome Ready for 2017 Launches
Director of the Operation Center for Ground-Based Space Infrastructure Rano Dzhuraeva told Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin that Vostocnhy Cosmodrome was ready for launches in 2017.
“There are no problematic issues here. We are to complete the facilities by ‘dry tests’ [tests for rocket carriers without fuel],” she said during examination of early production facilities. “We have finished almost everything concerning the technologies, including autonomous tests for the Fregat upper stage and integrated tests, as well as annual maintenance. Now we are preparing for ‘dry tests’ regarding the construction readiness.”
She also added that facelift repair of facilities needed after the first launch from the Vostochny Cosmodrome and painting will be finished in a few days.
Read more at: TASS
Proton Launcher Takes Off with Dual-use Russian Communications Satellite
A high-power Russian satellite designed to deliver broadband Internet connections and relay television and videoconferencing signals fired into orbit Wednesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Destined to serve the Russian military and civilian customers, the first Blagovest communications satellite rode a Proton rocket into space at 2207 GMT (6:07 p.m. EDT) Wednesday, according to a statement released by ISS Reshetnev, the spacecraft’s manufacturer. Liftoff occurred at 4:07 a.m. local time Thursday at Baikonur, a sprawling spaceport leased by the Russian government from Kazakhstan.
Read more at: Spaceflight Now
Russia-US Cooperation in Space must be Pragmatic and Without Sanctions — Senior Official
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin believes that cooperation between Russia and the US in space must not be covered by sanctions and must be as pragmatic as possible at the same time
“We believe that no sanctions or hostile acts should affect space [issues]. It’s another matter that we still have to be as pragmatic as possible in relations with Americans. If they want something, we must get something else in return, we must make their wishes dependent on our demands,” he said in an interview with the Russia 24 TV channel, elaborating that large space researches must be done by joint efforts of the global community, as they “cost too much.”
In this regard, Rogozin stressed, the US creates problems in space cooperation with Russia.
Read more at: TASS
CubeSats: Faster and Cheaper, But are They Better?
The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft that launched Monday from Kennedy Space Center carried a diverse payload of cargo for the International Space Station. Tucked inside the spacecraft’s trunk was an astrophysics experiment, the ISS Cosmic-Ray Energetics and Mass (ISS-CREAM), that will be mounted on the station’s Kibo module. Inside are a variety of investigations, from a protein crystal growth study linked to Parkinson’s disease to experiments developed by a group of Boy Scouts.
This Dragon, like many other cargo resupply missions, also carried small satellites for later deployment from the station. Among them was a 6U CubeSat called Dellingr built by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Dellingr, named after the god of the dawn in Norse mythology, carries instruments to study the Sun’s effect on the Earth’s upper atmosphere.
Read more at: Space Review
Station Managers Push Back Next Cygnus Cargo Flight to November
NASA and Orbital ATK have agreed to schedule the launch of the next Cygnus supply ship for Nov. 10 from Wallops Island on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, a delay of a month from the mission’s earlier target launch date to allow the flight to carry more cargo to the International Space Station, officials said.
The new launch date also will allow time for station astronauts to complete three spacewalks in late October and early November to swap out a latching end effector on the station’s Canadian-built robotic arm and complete other maintenance tasks, according to Dan Hartman, NASA’s deputy space station program manager.
Read more at: Spaceflight Now
Yes, it Really has Taken NASA 11 Years to Develop a Parachute
Last week, NASA’s acting chief technologist, Douglas Terrier, visited one of NASA’s main contractors in the Houston area, Jacobs. Along with a handful of media members, he spent about an hour touring the company’s engineering development facility, where the company supports NASA programs from the International Space Station to the Orion spacecraft.
At one stop during the tour, Terrier learned about a new distiller that might more efficiently recover water from urine during long-duration missions. At another, he learned about new debris sensors that will go to the station to record micrometeorite and orbital debris impacts. And at yet another, he heard about the parachute system that Jacobs has helped develop for the Orion spacecraft.
Read more at: ArsTechnica
These Next-Generation Space Suits Could Allow Astronauts to Explore Mars
Space suits are crucial for keeping crew members alive, and shielding them from the harsh vacuum of space during trips outside the International Space Station. And when we travel beyond lower Earth orbit — perhaps to the Moon or to Mars someday — suits will be a necessary tool. In the season premiere of Space Craft, we dove into the world of space suit design to find out what it takes to make an interplanetary ensemble.
As it turns out, it’s no easy feat. Making a space suit is an incredibly complex design process, involving the interplay of hundreds of different materials — from aluminum alloys to flexible textiles. And a life-support system that circulates oxygen through the suit basically has to sit on the astronaut’s back. “It’s very difficult to contain a human inside basically what is a bag full of oxygen,” says Pablo de León, director of the space suit laboratory at the University of North Dakota.
Read more at: Verge
NASA May Finally be Getting a Leader—Oklahoma Pilot Jim Bridenstine
NASA may finally be close to getting some clarity about its leadership during the Trump administration. On Tuesday, NASA Watch reported that the President will nominate US Representative Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) as administrator and Aerojet Rocketdyne Vice President John Schumacher as deputy administrator. Both men have been rumored to be nominated for these posts in recent weeks, but there have been no official confirmations as yet.
Read more at: Arstechnica
Air Force Names Space Operations Officials
The U.S. Air Force has named Shawn Barnes to be assistant deputy chief of staff for space operations directorate, and Maj. Gen. Pamela Lincoln to be mobilization assistant to the deputy chief of staff for space operations.
The Air Force has yet to name the deputy chief for the new directorate, but Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein noted in June the job will be filled by a “a new three-star deputy chief of staff for space” who “will increase decision making speed and help ensure freedom from attack and freedom to maneuver,”
Read more at: Space News
Spacewalk Goes Into Overtime as Cosmonauts Deploy Satellites, Collect Science
The two cosmonauts on board the International Space Station donned spacesuits and stepped outside the outpost for the 43rd Russian segment-based extravehicular activity (EVA). The Aug. 17, 2017, spacewalk lasted more than an hour longer than planned for a total duration of 7 hours, 34 minutes.
Fyodor Yurchikhin, the commander for the six-person Expedition 52 crew, and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy depressurized the Pirs module and opened the airlock hatch at 10:36 a.m. EDT (14:36 GMT) to perform a variety of tasks ranging from testing a new version of the Russian Orlan spacesuit, deploying five small satellites, installing external experiments, and collecting microbial samples on the hull of the ISS.
Read more at: Spaceflight Insider
Welcome to the Second Space Race
We are living in the second great age of space exploration. The first was born from the ashes of the Second World War and was fuelled by the fight for supremacy between capitalism and communism, the defining struggle of the last century. It ended with American footprints on the Moon and the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union, unable to keep up the pace, both economically and technologically.
This second space race, like our world today, is more complex and multifaceted than the first. It is driven by many factors and many, many more players. Some are familiar faces. Nasa, the United States government agency behind both the Apollo Moon missions and the space shuttle, still explores our solar system, but its budget is a fraction of the glory days of the 1960s and it is currently unable to send a human into orbit.
Read more at: National
How to Move Objects at the Nanoscale
To move a nanoparticle on the surface of a graphene sheet, you won’t need a “nano-arm”: by applying a temperature difference at the ends of the membrane, the nanocluster laying on it will drift from the hot region to the cold one. In addition, contrary to the laws ruling the world at the macroscale, the force acting on the particle – the so-called thermophoretic force – should not decrease as the sheet length rises, sporting a so-called ballistic behavior, same as a bullet in a gun barrel.
In fact, simulations show that vertical thermal oscillations of the graphene membrane flow ballistically from hot to cold, providing a push to the object. Yet, these vertical waves, known as flexural phonons, should not be able to impress any lateral shift to an object.
Read more at: Nano Daily
An MIT Professor’s Bittersweet Departure for Astronaut Training
There was a time when aerospace engineer Warren “Woody” Hoburg wouldn’t have thought twice about swapping his tenure-track faculty position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge for the chance to become an astronaut. But when NASA called in early June to say he had beaten the 1500-to-one odds of being chosen for its next astronaut class, Hoburg was deeply conflicted.
The 31-year-old, who joined the MIT faculty in 2014, had become deeply—and happily—enmeshed in his academic career. He and his students had just flown a lightweight, long-duration drone built with the help of a powerful software tool for optimizing airplane design, called GPkit, that he had created. The U.S. Air Force, which has funded the work, hopes to use the drone to maintain communications during disaster relief, but Hoburg was already thinking of many other uses. His research team had “so much momentum” that it was “hard for me to just end it,” he says.
Read more at: Science Magazine
The Role of Norms of Behavior in Preparing for a Normalized Space Domain
Recently, there has been increasing talk of space becoming a “normalized” domain of human activities, and thus similar in nature to land, sea, and air domains. While some of the advocates of this normalization emphasize the potential for military conflict to extend into space, space is also becoming more globalized, commercial, transparent, and interdependent. These trends will result in increased benefits from space on Earth, but also several significant challenges that will need to be overcome.
SWF Director of Program Planning Dr. Brian Weeden gave a presentation discussing these trends and their implications at the weekly Pentagon Joint Space Team meeting on August 16, 2017, in Washington, DC. Dr. Weeden’s presentation focused on the need to enhance norms of responsible behavior in space to help manage the challenges from a normalized space domain, and outlined several initiatives SWF is involved in to help establish such norms. These include SWF’s Handbook for New Actors in Space, participation in the United Nations discussions on guidelines for the long-term sustainability of space, and Dr. Weeden’s participation in the MILAMOS Project on international law and military space activities.
You can download a copy of Dr. Weeden’s presentation at https://swfound.org/media/205952/bw_normalized_space_domain_aug2017.pdf
Read more at: SWF
Time for NASA to Stop Playing Favorites with Elon Musk’s SpaceX
In the Trump era, one of the few things that both sides of the aisle can agree on is distaste for cronyism, especially when it is the government picking winners and losers. Ironically, one of the biggest offenders is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a bipartisan agency that is generally loved by Americans. One big beneficiary of the agency is Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX.
In June 2015, SpaceX cost taxpayers $110 million when one of its Falcon 9 rockets exploded on a mission to resupply the International Space Station. The company received all but 20 percent of the payment it would have received for completing the mission successfully. Though two years have since passed, the cause of the rocket’s failure remains unclear.
Read more at: Hill
Senior Official Says Russian Space Launches must be Cheaper than American Ones
Russia must make commercial space launches as cheap as possible in order to make them competitive, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Russia 24 TV channel live.
Russian scientists must respond in an “asymmetrical” way to their US counterparts, who developed technologies for returning launch vehicle first stages to the launch site, he said. In this respect, Rogozin called American developments a “costly history.”
“This is a debatable idea, but it has been publicly varnished and needs our response,” he said. “Only one response is possible here: to make the production and launch parts as cheap as possible, make our prices for launch services on the commercial market not heavy, but lower than the Americans have, no matter how hard they try.”
Read more at: TASS
Building off US Law to Create an International Registry of Extraterrestrial Mining Claims
In 2015, Congress passed the US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (hereafter, “the Act”), which gave formal legal support to commercial activity in space.1 Title IV of the Act, which establishes property rights for extraterrestrial resources, is a boon to companies like Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries, both of which have plans to mine asteroids.2 But while the Act has displayed Congressional intent to support space miners, it is still unclear how mining rights in space will be defined. In particular, the Act leaves several questions unresolved: How much work do space miners need to do to lay claim to certain resources? Do they have to get to the asteroid? Or has their claim to resources already been established even before their mining equipment lifts off from Earth? What obligations, if any, are attached to mined material that limit its use? Then there are questions of the international status of the Act: Will the mineral rights established by the Act be recognized by other countries? If so, how do the United States’ existing treaty obligations limit what the scope of those rights are likely to be?
Read more at: Space Review
Meet the Woman Behind this Spaceship
The American-made Dream Chaser spaceship will one day take astronauts and supplies into space. And the woman leading that effort is businesswoman Eren Ozmen.
She is co-owner and president of Sierra Nevada Corporation, a space systems and technologies company that is making the Dream Chaser, a more versatile version of earlier space shuttles. Ozmen has always worked hard. “My childhood instilled a lifelong drive to make an impact and make the world a better place,” she said.
Her upbringing in Turkey was very special to her, she says. As a young woman, she worked at a bank during the day and attended school at night while dreaming of coming to the United States.
Read more at: share.America
Space Flights, Nuclear Power and a Missile Shield
IF India is one of the top players in the world in space, nuclear power and missiles despite embargoes and technology-denial regimes heaped on it, a large share of the credit should go to the founding fathers of these programmes, Vikram Sarabhai, Homi J. Bhabha and Air Vice Marshal V.S. Narayanan respectively. Those who came after them built on this foundation to make the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) institutions that earned the respect of the world.
Success upon success has visited ISRO in the past several years. It successfully put into orbit its spacecraft around Mars in its first attempt on September 24, 2014. The spacecraft completed 1,000 earth days in its orbit on June 19, 2017, well beyond its designated mission life of six months. Its mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-1, was the first to discover the presence of water molecules on the lunar surface soil and rocks.
Read more at: FrontLine
Meet Gwynne Shotwell, the Woman Who Could Take Us to Mars
Few things about Gwynne Shotwell shout “rocket scientist.” Sure, the president of aerospace startup SpaceX holds a mechanical-engineering degree and a master’s in applied mathematics from Northwestern University, but she towers above the company’s sea of T-shirts and sneakers in her black skinny jeans and sky-high platform heels, happily chats about her love of Chardonnay, and drives a bright-red Tesla Model S (Tesla, like SpaceX, is owned by Elon Musk and operates a facility across the street from SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California) with a vanity plate that’s a play on an Elton John song. Yet she spends her days sending hulking pieces of metal into space.
Read more at: Marie Claire
Apollo’s Deep-Sea Fisherman: Jeff Bezos Recounts Saturn V Salvage Expedition
Jeff Bezos, the billionaire mogul behind Amazon.com and the private spaceflight company Blue Origin, is passionate about space exploration as well as its historical roots.
At a July 15 gala here hosted by Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, Bezos and other dignitaries celebrated the 48th anniversary of the first human landing on the moon in July 1969. Bezos also accepted the first annual Buzz Aldrin Space Innovation Award at the event. Bezos’ remarks at the gala included remembrances of his expedition to recover pieces of space-age history that were resting on the Atlantic Ocean seabed, 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) beneath the waves.
In 2013, a Bezos-led search-and-recovery team successfully pulled from the Atlantic’s depths some pieces of the huge Saturn V rockets that helped power Apollo astronauts to the moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Read more at: Space.com
AFSPC Initiative Destroys Barriers to Bolster Airmen Innovation
In a move to encourage Airmen to come forward with innovative thinking, a new decision panel will allow Airmen at all levels within Air Force Space Command to present ideas that could enhance the mission, save time, increase customer satisfaction, save the Air Force money, or anything that can improve the way things are done within the Air Force.
The new AFSPC Shark Tank-like panel is a rapid process method used to review ideas from Airmen at command staff and wing levels. “Our Airmen are the experts; this gives us an opportunity to hear directly from them,” said Gen. Jay Raymond, AFSPC commander.
Read more at: AFSPC
Report Links Ukrainian Rocket Firm to North Korean Program
The New York Times is reporting that North Korea’s recent missile launch success is powered by Ukrainian rocket technology pilfered from the same factory a Halifax company hopes to rely upon to launch commercial satellites from Canso.
The Times article named the supply source of North Korea’s missile engines as the Ukrainian Yuzhnoye State Design Office and Yuzhmash Production Association. This is the same conglomerate that is in partnership with Maritime Launch Services, which is proposing the Nova Scotia spaceport.
Read more at: Chronicle Herald
Nuclear Command and Control Problems Dominate U.S. Air Force Focus, GAO Finds
While the U.S Air Force is taking more steps to oversee nuclear command, control, and communications (NC3), the service must focus more on short-term problems than long-term issues, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says in its report, “Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications: Update on Air Force Oversight Effort and Selected Acquisition Programs,” released Aug. 15.
NC3 “is a large and complex system comprised of numerous land-, air-, sea-, and space-based components used to ensure connectivity between the President and nuclear forces,” the GAO notes.
Read more at: Space News
Finding Ender: The Utility of Tactical Decision Games for Space Warfare
In Robert Coram’s book, Boyd: the Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War, the author details impromptu Sunday afternoon meetings of Marine Corps captains drinking, shooting the bull, and discussing maneuver warfare. While discussions of maneuver warfare was wholly apropos for the times (late 1970s/early 1980s), the same concept of Young Turks conquering a problem set can be easily transplanted into space operators adopting the orbital realm as their joint operating area.
Coram describes the early difficulties these Devil Dog “maneuverists” faced against their own service. However the grassroots adoption of the tenants of maneuver warfare (later codified into FMFM-1, Warfighting) by these young officers spread throughout the Corps and the Defense Department in the following decade.
Read more at: Space Review
Russian Cosmonaut Aleksey Leonov to Publish Book about Yuri Gagarin’s Death in Air Crash
Russia’s veteran cosmonaut, first space walker Aleksey Leonov, is about to publish a book containing documents and charts proving what the author says were the real causes of the air crash that claimed the life of the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin. Leonov argues that Gagarin’s plane was sent into a spin by turbulence caused by a supersonic Sukhoi-15 jet that flew past too close.
“The illustrated album will be called Man and Space. Its release will be timed for the anniversary of the launch of the first ever-satellite. It will contain my paintings (about 100 of them), photographs and documents and various conclusions concerning different periods of life, the full account of my creative projects, and philosophical reflections.
Read more at: TASS