NASA is Prepared if a Battery Ever Explodes in Space

This maybe sound obvious, but you can’t charge your spacecraft with an extra long power cord — which is why batteries are clutch for space, powering everything from electric tools and spacesuits to satellites and planetary rovers. But sending a battery into the cosmos means more than just loading it onto a rocket: batteries must be built to withstand the extreme temperatures of the space environment, and they also have to be packaged so that they don’t harm any astronauts if they accidentally explode.

Many deep-space vessels are equipped with solar panels for power, so most space batteries are used for storing energy on spacecraft to use when the Sun is out of sight. That happens when these vehicles temporarily pass between a planet and the Sun, for instance, blocking light from view. Batteries are crucial for keeping the vehicle powered until sunlight remerges.

Read more at: Verge

China Unveils Chang’e-4 Rover to Explore Moon’s Far Side

China’s moon lander and rover for the Chang’e-4 lunar probe, which is expected to land on the far side of the moon this year, was unveiled Wednesday.

Images displayed at Wednesday’s press conference showed the rover was a rectangular box with two foldable solar panels and six wheels. It is 1.5 meters long, 1 meter wide and 1.1 meters high.

Wu Weiren, the chief designer of China’s lunar probe program, said the Chang’e-4 rover largely kept the shape and conditions of its predecessor, Yutu (Jade Rabbit), China’s first lunar rover for the Chang’e-3 lunar probe in 2013.

Read more at: Space daily

Paul Allens Stratolaunch Venture Rolls Out Worlds Biggest Airplane For Weekend Tests

Stratolaunch, the launch venture created by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, took the world’s biggest airplane out of its hangar this weekend at California’s Mojave Air and Space Port and revved up its engines in preparation for the next step toward shooting rockets into space from midair.

The rocket-launching part is still a year or two away, but Stratolaunch is aiming to put the 385-foot-wide, twin-fuselage plane through its first test flight within the next couple of months.

In order to do that, the test program calls for flying five on-the-ground runway taxi tests at increasing speeds. Two of those tests have been done already, and in a tweet on Friday, Stratolaunch CEO Jean Floyd hinted that the third runway race might be run this weekend

Read more at: Geekwire

NASA Says RS-25 Engine Test a Success Despite Ending Early

NASA says an Aug. 14 test of an engine for the Space Launch System was a success despite an unspecified “facility issue” that caused the test to end early.

The test of the RS-25 engine on the A-1 stand at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi was the first in a new series of static-fire tests of the shuttle-era engine that will be used in the core stage of the SLS. The engine, a developmental unit designated No. 0525, tested a flight controller unit that will be used on flight models of the engine as well as new manufacturing techniques intended to reduce the cost of future engines.

NASA Stennis announced prior to the test that the test would run for eight minutes and 20 seconds. However, in a tweet after the test, Stennis said the test ended after five minutes and 19 seconds.

Read more at: Spacenews

Six Things About Opportunity’s Recovery Efforts

NASA’s Opportunity rover has been silent since June 10, when a planet-encircling dust storm cut off solar power for the nearly-15-year-old rover. Now that scientists think the global dust storm is “decaying” — meaning more dust is falling out of the atmosphere than is being raised back into it — skies might soon clear enough for the solar-powered rover to recharge and attempt to “phone home.”

No one will know how the rover is doing until it speaks. But the team notes there’s reason to be optimistic: They’ve performed several studies on the state of its batteries before the storm, and temperatures at its location. Because the batteries were in relatively good health before the storm, there’s not likely to be too much degradation. And because dust storms tend to warm the environment — and the 2018 storm happened as Opportunity’s location on Mars entered summer — the rover should have stayed warm enough to survive.

Read more at: JPL

Research Module Nauka to be Launched to ISS in November 2019

The multifunctional laboratory module Nauka will be launched towards the International Space Station in November 2019, the CEO of Russia’s Roscosmos corporation, Dmitry Rogozin, told TASS in an interview. The module will be dispatched to the Baikonur space site in Kazakhstan in December 2018 or January 2019.

Roscosmos specialists have inspected the module’s condition at the M.V. Khrunichev State Research and Production Center. A number of discussions have been held with the space rocket corporation Energia. It was agreed that the module must be launched.

“The work has been organized properly. We believe that if no disruptions occur, we will dispatch the module to Baikonur in December this year or January next year,” Rogozin said.

Read more at: TASS

Spacewalking Cosmonauts Toss Tiny Satellites From Space Station

Two Russian cosmonauts completed a grueling, nearly 8-hour spacewalk Wednesday (Aug. 15), tossing tiny satellites into orbit from the International Space Station, among other tasks.

Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev emerged from the Pirs airlock at 12:17 p.m. EDT (1617 GMT) and spent a total of 7 hours and 46 minutes at work in space. The spacewalk began about 20 minutes after its scheduled start, just in time for the International Space Station to catch sunrise over the Pacific Ocean.

“Just a reminder that safety comes first in everything you’re about to do,” Roscosmos staffers running the spacewalk reminded the cosmonauts before they opened the hatch.

Read more at: Space.com

Space Travel Could Contaminate Mars With Human Germs, Warns Professor

An Oxford professor is calling for a “temporary moratorium” on human missions to Mars, until we can find a way to travel there without contaminating the red planet’s environment.

“We’re covered with bacteria and various organisms that live with us,” said Todd Huffman, a professor of particle physics at Oxford University.

“If we send a human being to the planet Mars you’re basically bringing a massive bag of various living organisms from our planet and depositing them on the Martian surface,” he told The Current’s guest host Laura Lynch.

That could potentially contaminate native organisms on Mars, he said, or any other planet capable of supporting life.

Read more at: CBC

NASA Boss Names Alabama Attorney To Human Exploration Advisory Panel

Huntsville attorney Mark McDaniel has been appointed to the Human Exploration and Operations Committee of the NASA Advisory Council. The committee advises the council and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on human explorations issues.

Bridenstine appointed McDaniel and announced that appointment on a visit to Huntsville’s Marshall Space Flight Center Aug. 15.

“I’m proud to announce the appointment of Mr. Mark McDaniel to the Human Explorations and Operations subcommittee of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC),” Bridenstine said. “His legal and space expertise will serve our agency well.”

Read more at: Al

India’s Astronaut Mission Will Push Space Program to the Limit

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to send an Indian national into space by 2022 — when the country will celebrate the 75th anniversary of its independence from British colonial rule.

“India will send into space — a man or a woman — by 2022, before that if possible,” Modi said, adding that the chosen astronaut would be “carrying the national flag.”

The announcement was made on Wednesday, August 15, when Modi addressed the people of India from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort in the capital, New Delhi. He was delivering a speech marking India’s Independence Day.

If successful, India would become the fourth nation to send a person into space, after Russia, the US and China. At present, only Russia and China have the capability to put a human in space. The US is expected to join them soon with the help of its commercial crew program.

Read more at: Dw

How Close is India to Developing Human Spaceflight Capability?

Addressing the nation on Independence Day from the ramparts of the Red Fort, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India will launch a crewed space mission by 2022 to mark 75 years of independence.

The announcement did not come as a surprise to many, given that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has been working on the various parts of the human spaceflight puzzle for the past few years.

Surprisingly, though (or maybe not), something as technical as a spaceflight triggered a controversy on Twitter, where some claimed that the mission was earlier scheduled for launch around 2020, hinting that the Modi government had ‘in fact’ slowed the programme down and pushed it down the line.

Read more at: swarajya

How SpaceX is Training NASA Astronauts to Fly on the Company’s Dragon Capsule

SpaceX has its first passenger crews all picked out, their flight dates are set, and now it’s time to prepare them for the trip to space. On Monday, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell hosted the first four NASA astronauts who will be riding into space on the company’s new passenger spacecraft, the Crew Dragon, which is being built for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. And the company gave press their first peek at the tools the astronauts will use to train for these inaugural flights.

Now that the crews are official, the astronauts will be working with SpaceX over the upcoming months and years to prepare for their trips. The Crew Dragon is SpaceX’s ship — not NASA’s — so SpaceX is also the one providing the necessary training equipment for the vehicle. These include two major pieces of simulation hardware that will familiarize astronauts with the inside of the capsule, and SpaceX had them on display on Monday.

Read more at: Verge

Can Humans Live in Space Without Going Crazy?

On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American in space when he piloted the Mercury capsule Freedom 7. His sub-orbital journey lasted 15 minutes. Like most children who grew up in the early era of space flight, I remember this moment well.

The flight was extra special for me because my dad, Arthur L. Levine, worked for NASA. As a human resources administrator, he recruited John Glenn, who in 1962 became the first American to orbit Earth. My dad, Glenn and Neil Armstrong, all worked at the research center in Cleveland, Ohio, which today is called the Glenn Research Center.

Because dad worked for the agency, I became fascinated as a child with astronauts and space flight. That fascination has stayed with me as an adult.

Read more at: Discover magazine

Spaceport Colorado Lands License To Launch Tourists, Scientists Skyward From Front Range Airport

Nearly seven years after Gov. John Hickenlooper first enunciated the need for a facility in Colorado where next-generation space vehicles can routinely launch and land — ferrying satellites and star-bound tourists into suborbital space — federal regulators have granted Spaceport Colorado its operator license.

Adams County spokesman Jim Siedlecki said the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval came through Friday. A formal announcement on the license is scheduled to take place at 11 a.m. Monday at Adams County government headquarters.

The operator license means that Spaceport Colorado, housed at Front Range Airport in Adams County, becomes the nation’s 11th facility of its kind, opening the door for Colorado to further cement its already robust reputation as an epicenter for space-related missions and business ventures.

Read more at: Denver post

Sonic Boom, Very Bright Fireball Reported Over Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia And North Carolina

A very bright fireball, at least 40 times as bright as the Full Moon, streaked across the night sky over the U.S. Southeast at 05:19 UTC (12:19 CDT) on August 17, 2018. The event lasted several seconds and was followed by a sonic boom.

The American Meteor Society has so far received 42 reports from people living in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina.

“Numerous eyewitnesses in the Southeast reported seeing a very bright fireball, which was also detected by all six NASA meteor cameras in the region,” Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office said.

Read more at: watchers

Could SpaceX and Boeing Spaceships Open a New Era for Space Tourism?

In front of a racous crowd at Johnson Space Center in Houston this month, NASA announced the nine astronauts who have been selected for the agency’s commercial crew flights. The maiden crewed flights of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner vehicles may launch as soon as next year, marking the first time that astronauts have departed for space from U.S. soil since the space shuttle program ended in 2011.

“This is truly an exciting time for human spaceflight in our nation, and believe me — it’s only going to get better as we charge off into our future,” Bob Cabana, a former astronaut who is now director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, said during the Aug. 3 announcement. The only way it could get more exciting, he joked, was if he were selected himself.

Read more at: Space.com

Virgin Galactic’s Rocket Man

At 5 a.m. on April 5th, Mark Stucky drove to an airstrip in Mojave, California, and gazed at SpaceShipTwo, a sixty-foot-long craft that is owned by Virgin Galactic, a part of the Virgin Group. Painted white and bathed in floodlight, it resembled a sleek fighter plane, but its mission was to ferry thousands of tourists to and from space.

Stucky had piloted SpaceShipTwo on two dozen previous test flights, including three of the four times that it had fired its rocket booster, which was necessary to propel it into space. On October 31, 2014, he watched the fourth such flight from mission control; it crashed in the desert, killing his best friend. On this morning, Stucky would be piloting the fifth rocket-powered flight, on a new iteration of the spaceship. A successful test would restore the program’s lustre.

Read more at: Newyorker

Spinning Heat Shield Concept Could Provide a Lightweight Way to Survive Atmospheric Re-entry

One of the more challenging aspects of space exploration and spacecraft design is planning for re-entry. Even in the case of thinly-atmosphered planets like Mars, entering a planet’s atmosphere is known to cause a great deal of heat and friction. For this reason, spacecraft have always been equipped with heat shields to absorb this energy and ensure that the spacecraft do not crash or burn up during re-entry.

Unfortunately, current spacecraft must rely on huge inflatable or mechanically deployed shields, which are often heavy and complicated to use. To address this, a PhD student from the University of Manchester has developed a prototype for a heat shield that would rely on centrifugal forces to stiffen flexible, lightweight materials. This prototype, which is the first of its kind, could reduce the cost of space travel and facilitate future missions to Mars.

Read more at: technology.org

Wearable ‘Microbrewery’ Saves Human Body From Radiation Damage

The same way that yeast yields beer and bread can help hospital lab workers better track their daily radiation exposure, enabling a faster assessment of tissue damage that could lead to cancer.

But rather than building portable cellars or ovens, Purdue University researchers have engineered yeast “microbreweries” within disposable badges made of freezer paper, aluminum and tape. Simply adding a drop of water activates the yeast to show radiation exposure as read by an electronic device.

On a commercial level, the readout device could one day be a tablet or phone. The badge could also be adapted in the future for nuclear power plant workers and victims of nuclear disasters.

Read more at: Space daily

Digging into the Details of Orion’s EM-1 Test Flight

As NASA continues to analyze and refine the profile for the Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) test flight, more information about the multi-week mission is beginning to be detailed. The Orion spacecraft will fly into orbit around the Moon before returning to Earth in a shakedown mission before the first crew flies in Orion on Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2).

EM-1 will be the first flight of Orion’s European Service Module, also pairing it with the Crew Module for the first time, with hundreds of test objectives to be evaluated during the mission.

Orion will fly on EM-1 for the first time with all of its primary spacecraft elements. The European Service Module (ESM) will make its first flight, connected to the second crew module (CM) unit by a crew module adapter (CMA) making its first flight.

Read more at: NASA spaceflight

Sierra Nevada Corporation Completes Key Step for NASA’s Nextstep-2 Long Duration Space Travel Study

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) completed a NASA study for the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE), which is the first module planned to be launched for NASA’s Gateway in lunar orbit. The study was performed under one of SNC’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships-2 (NextSTEP-2) contracts. SNC plans to submit a bid to win the NASA contract when the agency issues its formal solicitation for the element later this year.

“Our design provides pressurized volume in addition to the capabilities NASA requires,” said Steve Lindsey, vice president of SNC’s Space Exploration Systems and former NASA space shuttle commander. “We are providing significant mission flexibility for transportation and operations from low-Earth orbit to lunar orbit.”  Lindsey flew on five space shuttle missions for NASA and commanded three assembly and test missions to the International Space Station. He was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2015.

Read more at: sncorp

Spacex Reveals the Controls of its Dragon Spacecraft for the First Time

Across the cavernous rocket factory, the buzz, whirr, and whine of various machinery never ebbed. Even when the president of SpaceX and four blue-suited astronauts strode confidently onto the factory floor Monday afternoon and took up microphones to address several dozen reporters, the incessant work inside the SpaceX Falcon 9 hatchery continued.

On one side of the factory, technicians produced rolls of carbon fiber and built myriad payload fairings, which cannot yet be reused during a launch. To meet its cadence of a launch every other week, SpaceX must build at least two of these each month. Another section of the factory fabricated the Merlin 1-D rocket engines that power the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage. And in another large white room behind glass, several Dragon spacecraft were in various states of completion.

Read more at: Arstechnica

Ariane 6 is Nearing Completion, But Europe’s Work is Far From Over

In 2014, when the European Space Agency settled on a six-year roadmap for the development of two next-generation rockets — Ariane 6 and Vega C — Europe’s main launch service provider Arianespace was still in the driver’s seat.

International Launch Services was recovering from another Proton failure. Sea Launch was in drydock. SpaceX had just begun to crack the commercial market. The competitive landscape was shifting but Arianespace still sat firmly on top with its Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega rockets.

Responding to the threat SpaceX’s lowpriced Falcon 9 posed to Europe’s launch sector dominance, ESA and its industrial partners ArianeGroup and Avio made cost control a defining requirement of Europe’s future launch vehicles.

Read more at: Spacenews

Proposed Standard Seeks to Offer More Launch Flexibility For Smallsats

A proposed standard announced at a conference last week seeks to provide the same launch flexibility for larger smallsats currently enjoyed by cubesats.

The Launch Unit, or Launch-U, standard announced by the Aerospace Corporation Aug. 6 defines a physical standard for spacecraft weighing dozens of kilograms to make it easier to shift such spacecraft from one launch opportunity to another.

“Why can’t we just buy a bus ticket or a plane ticket and get to space? What are some of the things that stop that from happening?” said Carrie O’Quinn, a senior project engineer at Aerospace, during a presentation about the standard at the AIAA/Utah State University Conference on Small Satellites here.

Read more at: Spacenews

Boeing Team Challenges Focusing SLS Engine Section Work

The Boeing team is working to finish the integration of the first engine section element of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) Core Stage by focusing its efforts in short-term team challenges. Boeing management recently challenged the team at Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans to complete packages of major work items within a few weeks. They are currently beating or meeting those deadlines as the Core Stage prime contractor aims to hold to a late Fall completion date for the element.

The engine section is the pacing item in the schedule for completing Core Stage-1 (CS-1), the first flight vehicle which will fly on Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1).

While the team challenges resulted in a series of major hardware installations inside and outside the engine section, welding tubes and testing wiring also continues.

Read more at: NASA spaceflight

Angara Rocket Family to Replace Proton Launchers Net 2024

Angara rockets could fully replace Russia’s long-serving Soviet-era Proton launch vehicles as early as 2024. This is according to an industry official, who made the remark at an aerospace conference in the city of Kazan.

Proton rockets have been in service since 1965. In recent years Russia and International Launch Services have utilized the rocket in its 190-foot (58-meter) tall “M” variant to send military and commercial satellites to orbit. About three to eight Proton-M launches are typically conducted annually from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan these days.

The number of launches of Proton-M rockets is decreasing every year as the production of this rocket is drawing to a close and no new launch contracts are likely to be signed in the near future.

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

A Workhorse Rocket Maker Tries to Touch the Sun—And Stay Relevant

Shooting stars streak through the night sky above Florida’s Space Coast as the Perseid meteor shower approaches its peak. Mars glows red in the predawn hours, hovering over the crowds of onlookers. But the people gathered here at Kennedy Space Center have not come to view these astronomical phenomena. They have come to witness one of the largest rockets in the world send a spacecraft to the sun.

On the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the 30-story-tall Delta IV Heavy is already loaded with 460,000 gallons of fuel. An ominous warning about safety liability blares over the loudspeaker. The $1.5 billion Parker Solar Probe sits atop the rocket, ready for its 3:31 a.m. liftoff.

Read more at: Popular Mechanics

Lockheed Martin Offers Glimpse Into Its Lunar Habitat Modules | Poll

Picture this: You’re hovering over the moon in zero gravity with three other people in an aluminum container that best could be described as a bloated school bus that’s part space laboratory and part intergalactic Days Inn.

Add robotic work stations, a place to exercise and science payloads, and conditions are likely to get tight for the 2 to 3 weeks you’d be in space. Every inch counts in the lunar habitat as you eat, sleep and help with missions on the moon and into deep space.

Lockheed Martin Co.’s Space Team on Thursday offered a rare peek of its vision of a deep space lunar habitat that would be a key component of a space gateway. That gateway would serve as a floating spaceport for space vehicles leaving earth on missions to deep space.

Read more at: Florida today

Musk Deliberately Understates Prices Of Commercial Rocket Launches — Roscosmos Chief

The head of the US space company SpaceX, Elon Musk, deliberately understates the prices of commercial launches of his space rockets as he enjoys support from the government of the United States, the CEO of Russia’s space corporation Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, told TASS in an interview.

“It is not rocket reusability that constitutes Musk’s main competitive edge. The US government enables him to use dumping on the market of launch services. Musk’s launches for the Pentagon are twice more expensive. In this way he compensates for his losses on the commercial market, thus ‘killing’ competitors who do not have lavish government support to rely on,” Rogozin said.

Roscosmos looks for various ways of cutting the costs of launches, including the multiple use of the most costly rocket parts. Soyuz-5 is likely to become a successful Russian commercial vehicle, for its price will be “no higher than that of our competitors,” Rogozin said.

Read more at: TASS

Lockheed Receives Contract For Missile Warning Satellites

Lockheed Martin Space Systems has received a $2.9 billion contract for three Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared Geosynchronous Earth Orbit Space Vehicles for the U.S. Air Force.

The contract, announced Tuesday by the Department of Defense, provides for design, development, flight hardware procurement, manufacturing and risk reduction as part of a critical design review.

Work will be performed in Sunnyvale, Calif., and is expected to be completed by April 2021. Fiscal 2018 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $80 million are being obligated at the time of award.

Read more at: Space daily

U.S. Warns On Russia’s New Space Weapons

The United States voiced deep suspicion on Tuesday over Russia’s pursuit of new space weapons, including a mobile laser system to destroy satellites in space, and the launch of a new inspector satellite which was acting in an “abnormal” way.

Russia’s pursuit of counterspace capabilities was “disturbing”, Yleem D.S. Poblete, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, told the U.N.’s Conference on Disarmament which is discussing a new treaty to prevent an arms race in outer space.

A Russian delegate at the conference dismissed Poblete’s remarks as unfounded and slanderous.

Read more at: Reuters

Lockheed ‘Seizes High Ground’ With Second Hypersonics Deal

 It’s not over until it’s over,, but Lockheed Martin is certainly showing early promise in the eye-wateringly difficult technical field of building a useful hypersonic weapon.

The Air Force announced last night that it was awarding the world’s biggest defense company a $480 million contract to develop a prototype for the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW).

Lockheed “has been putting a lot of work into this and a great deal of emphasis in terms of company strategy,” said Richard Aboulafia, the dean of aviation analysis over at Teal Group. “But as our British pals say, it’s early days in this industry. The technology is far from mature. A lot can happen before deployable systems see more than limited production runs. But right now, yes, they are seizing the high ground in hypersonics.”

Read more at: Breaking defense

Mysterious X-37B Military Space Plane Nears 1 Year in Orbit

The U.S. Air Force’s X-37B miniature space plane has winged past 340 days in orbit performing secretive duties during the program’s fifth flight.

The robotic craft’s latest mission, known as Orbital Test Vehicle-5 (OTV-5), kicked off on Sept. 7, 2017, with a launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.

As usual, Air Force officials have revealed few details about OTV-5. But we do know that one payload flying aboard the X-37B this time around is the Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader, or ASETS-11. Developed by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, this cargo is testing experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipes for long durations in the space environment.

Read more at: Space.com

‘Very Abnormal’ Russian Satellite Doesn’t Seem So Threatening, Experts Say

It’s unclear exactly why American officials are so worked up about a Russian satellite’s recent activities, experts say.

On Tuesday (Aug. 14), a high-ranking member of the U.S. State Department raised concerns about the satellite, describing its on-orbit behavior as “very abnormal” and implying that it could be a space weapon of some kind.

“We don’t know for certain what it is, and there is no way to verify it,” Yleem Poblete, assistant secretary for arms control, verification and compliance at the State Department, said at a conference on disarmament in Geneva

“But Russian intentions with respect to this satellite are unclear and are obviously a very troubling development — particularly when considered in concert with statements by Russia’s Space Force commander, who highlighted that ‘assimilate[ing] new prototypes of weapons [into] Space Forces’ military units’ is a ‘main task facing the Aerospace Forces space troops,'” she added.

Read more at: Space.com

Adversaries Could Have Fiddled With US Satellites: DoD IG

If Chinese and Russian spies have been doing their jobs well, they might well have been able to compromise some of America’s most important satellites, including the missile launch detection birds known as SBIRS.

A report out today from the Pentagon’s Inspector General says that Air Force Space Command’s failure to safeguard its supply chain means that “an adversary has opportunity to infiltrate the Air Force Space Command supply chain and sabotage, maliciously introduce an unwanted function, or otherwise compromise the design or integrity of the critical hardware, software, and firmware.”

Read more at: Breaking defense

Space Force Talk Drawing Attention to the Need For International Norms

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis over the past few days traveling in Latin America was asked on several occasions to comment on the militarization of space. In public appearances and press gaggles, Mattis insisted that the United States does not want to fight wars in space and has no plans to deploy lethal weapons in orbit even as it is moving to create a new branch of the military dedicated to space.

The announcement by Vice President Mike Pence last week that the Pentagon will stand up a Space Force suddenly has drawn attention to the issue of international space security and to an accelerating arms race that, the Trump administration argues, requires a strong posture in space.

Read more at: Spacenews

Space Force: To 37% and Beyond

President Donald Trump called in June for creating a US Space Force, a new branch of the military designed to protect US assets in space. And he was serious. Vice President Mike Pence made the request official last week, although Congress will have to weigh in.

But according to CNN’s latest polling, a majority of Americans (55%) say they don’t support the new plans to establish a Space Force; only 37% said they do. Pence endorsed the proposed expansion of military boundaries by calling for a Space Force by the year 2020. But not even Trump’s supporters are strongly behind the expansion into the final frontier.

Read more at: CNN

Space Squadron Celebrates Heritage, Reflects On Past 25 Years

Twenty-five years ago, Maj. Frank Casserino had no idea what an impact his work as a Reserve Citizen Airman would have on the future of the Air Force Reserve’s involvement in the space program. He did know, however, that Reservists had a lot to offer to their active duty partners and he encouraged local leadership to consider standing up a Reserve space squadron.

On Mar. 18th, 1993, the 7th Space Operations Squadron was activated on what was then Falcon Air Force Base with the directive to support Air Force Space Command, and Casserino was made the first-ever Reserve space squadron commander. 7 SOPS worked hand-in-hand with the active duty 1st Space Operations Squadron, 50th Space Wing, in conducting launch and early orbit checkout, proficiency and disposal operations for the Global Positioning System (GPS) and Defense Support Program (DSP) satellites.

Read more at: afspc

Senate Commerce Committee to Consider Morhard, Droegemeier Nominations Next Week

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will consider the nominations of James Morhard to be NASA Deputy Administrator and Kelvin Droegemeier to be Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) next week.  Morhard’s nomination took many by surprise.  He has no aerospace experience and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine had publicly advocated for someone else.  Droegemeier’s nomination has been greeted with praise across-the-board.

Both men were required to submit written answers to a series of questions from the Commerce Committee prior to the hearing.  Their questionnaires are published on the committee’s website.

Read more at: Space policy online

A Box Fell From the Sky. It Had a Note About Trump. The Police Were Not Amused.

When a white package fell from the sky and landed in central New Jersey this week, the people who found it were alarmed not only by the device’s strange hissing sound — but also by the handwritten note that referred to President Trump, the authorities said.

On Tuesday morning, the Styrofoam-wrapped package attached to a red parachute floated down from the atmosphere. It dropped onto a solar panel field in South Brunswick, N.J., about 25 miles south from where Mr. Trump was staying in Bedminster. People who work nearby called the authorities, and police officers, firefighters and a bomb squad responded to investigate the potential threat, according to a news release from the South Brunswick Police Department.

Read more at: NY Times

‘Safing In Work’: Remembering Discovery’s Almost-Liftoff, On This Day a Quarter-Century Ago

The words of launch commentator George Diller at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida at 9:12 a.m. EDT on 12 August 1993—a quarter-century ago, this morning—were calm and measured, as all eyes focused on shuttle Discovery in the final moments of her countdown to fly STS-51. The planned nine-day mission was destined to deploy an advanced NASA communications satellite and release and retrieve an ultraviolet telescope on a German-built Shuttle Pallet Satellite (SPAS), as well as perform a six-hour spacewalk. Yet STS-51 had struggled to get off the ground.

On 17 July, a flaw in a pyrotechnic initiator controller, needed to trigger the release of the shuttle’s twin Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) from the launch pad, had forced a scrub. Troubleshooting identified a thermal instability issue in a solid-state switch card in the Ground Support Equipment (GSE) and after replacement and testing the launch of STS-51 was rescheduled for the following week.

Read more at: America space

85 Years Ago: The USSR Launched Its First Rocket Using Liquid Propellant

In 1932, the Group for Investigation of Reactive Motion, GIRD, the first professional rocket-development organization in the USSR, formed just a year earlier, began work on Rocket Projectile No. 9. The project was also known as Vehicle 09 as well as R1-09, R1(09) or GIRD-09. Engineers at GIRD informally called it “nine”. The development of Vehicle 09 was centered at GIRD’s Design Brigade No. 2 led by Mikhail Tikhonravov, for whom it became the main occupation at the time.

The Vehicle 09 became the first ballistic rocket that GIRD was able to take entirely from paper to the launch pad and the closest to date the Soviet engineers got to launching a liquid-propellant rocket, so important for space enthusiasts. However, the rocket eventually became known as a hybrid vehicle, because its liquid oxidizer was mixed with a jelly-like substance made of gasoline, also known as “solid benzene”.

Read more at: Russian spaceweb

Review: The Space Barons Try to Save Humanity From Itself

On the final day of the International Space Development Conference in May, I attended a fascinating session titled, “Space Entrepreneur ‘War Stories.’” It was a rather sobering hour of panelists recounting how various commercial ventures they had been involved in over the years had crashed and burned.

The common thread that ran through many of the stories was this: commercial space follows a boom-and-bust cycle where a long period of economic growth see space geeks who had made fortunes in other industries pour their money into various cosmic ventures. Two prominent examples include BlastOff!, a commercial venture to land a rover on the moon, and MirCorp, an effort to commercialize the Russian space station Mir.

Read more at: Parabolic arc

“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