Babin Introduces Leading Human Spaceflight Act

Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) introduced legislation today to ensure continuous U.S. human spaceflight presence in low Earth orbit (LEO) and Johnson Space Center’s (JSC’s) “leadership role as the home of American human spaceflight.”  Babin’s congressional district includes JSC and he chairs the Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and  Technology Committee.

Babin made the announcement at a subcommittee hearing where JSC Director Mark Geyer testified along with two other Center directors (Jody Singer from Marshall Space Flight Center and Bob Cabana from Kennedy Space Center) and Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Japanese Cargo Ship Reaches Space Station

A Japanese cargo ship loaded with more than 10,000 pounds of supplies and equipment, including a new set of solar array batteries, was captured by the International Space Station’s robot arm early Thursday to wrap up a trouble-free rendezvous.

With station commander Drew Feustel and Serena Auñón-Chancellor operating the Canadian-built arm, the HTV-7 “Kounotori” cargo craft was captured at 7:34 a.m. EDT (GMT-4) as the two spacecraft were passing 251 miles above the northern Pacific Ocean.

“HTV capture is complete, the arm is safed. And I just want to say that we’re delighted to see HTV-7 arrive at ISS,” Feustel radioed flight controllers. “Thanks to the JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) teams for working so hard to successfully launch this vehicle in spite of the recent challenges with hardware and weather.”

Read more at: CBS News

ULA Selects Blue Origin Engine To Power Launch Vehicle

The United Launch Alliance has selected Blue Origin to provide the engine for its Vulcan Centaur boost-phase launch vehicle, a big win for the Jeff Bezos-founded company.

The BE-4 design was selected over Aerojet Rocketdyne’s AR1 system, ULA announced Thursday. Two of the engines, each capable of 550,000 pounds of thrust, will power the boost vehicle.

“We are pleased to enter into this partnership with Blue Origin and look forward to a successful first flight of our next-generation launch vehicle,” Tory Bruno, ULA CEO, said in a statement (ULA is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing).

Read more at: Defensenews

This Small Japanese Re-Entry Capsule Is Ready for a Test Flight from Space Station

A brand-new Japanese re-entry capsule, designed to bring back experiments from space, is gearing up for its first test flight after hitching a ride to the International Space Station aboard a robotic cargo ship.

The space capsule arrived at the space station Thursday (Sept. 27) along with 5 tons of supplies on Kounotori7, the seventh uncrewed H-II Transfer Vehicle resupply ship (also known as HTV-7) launched to the orbiting lab by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Kounotori is Japanese for “White Stork.”

The HTV Small Re-Entry Capsule (HSRC) took its first trip toward the International Space Station on Sept. 22, when Kounotori7 launched into orbit from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.

Read more at: Space.com

Stratolaunch Aircraft Taxis at Mojave

Stratolaunch’s massive carrier aircraft performed a taxi test down runway 12-30 at the Mojave Air and Space Port on Friday afternoon.

The airplane, which is designed to air-launch rockets, appeared to make several short moves at the southeast end of the runway before beginning its taxi test. It stopped twice during the taxi test before arriving at the end of the runway.

The twin-fuselage plane veered to one side on several occasions during the test, resulting in the pilots correcting the vehicle’s path. It was not clear whether this movement was part of the test.

Read more at: Parabolic arc

What Powers Deep Space Travel

When Khooshboo Dani grew up dreaming of traveling through space and building something among the cosmos, she never considered what would power her voyage.

Inspired by Neil Armstrong’s biography and trips to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and the Boeing’s Factory in Seattle, she decided to pursue a graduate education in astronautical engineering after completing a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Amrita University in India. Now, as a master’s student in Viterbi’s Department of Astronautical Engineering (MS ’19) and former member of the Liquid Propulsion Lab, a student-led rocket building group, she has developed an interest in power systems.

Read more at: Space daily

Airbus Tests Stratospheric 4G 5G Defence Communications With Balloons

Airbus has successfully tested stratospheric 4G/5G defence applications with a high-altitude balloon demonstration. The technology tested, an Airbus LTE AirNode, represents a key part of Airbus’ secure networked airborne military communications project, Network for the Sky (NFTS).

With this new generation of long-range communications in the sky, high-altitude platforms such as Airbus’ Zephyr will be able to create persistent, secured communication cells to relay information on a variety of different aircraft platforms including helicopters, tactical UAVs and MALE UAVs (Medium Altitude Long Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicles).

Read more at: Spacewar

Scientists Produce Oxygen From Water In Zero Gravity, Making Sustained Space Travel A Real Possibility

Humans have put considerable time and effort into destroying our beautiful planet over the past few decades. Deforestation, pollution and the destruction of plant and animal species – among other things – are making the Earth increasingly inhospitable. Add to that the conflict between nations around the world which could culminate in World War III, and it begins to look more and more like humans are going to have to find another home – and soon.

While there are people like Elon Musk who believe that finding another permanent planet home is as easy as buying something at Walmart, the truth is that there are multiple obstacles to sustaining life long-term for billions of people on other planets.

Read more at: Space.news

As Satellite Constellations Grow Larger, NASA is Worried About Orbital Debris

Multiple aerospace companies, including SpaceX and OneWeb, have vowed to someday launch thousands of satellites into low Earth orbit, but these mega-constellations could make space a more congested and dangerous place. That’s why NASA is recommending in a new report that these companies make sure their future satellites are taken out of orbit as soon as they complete their missions.

Currently, there are about 4,000 intact spacecraft living in orbit around Earth, only 1,800 of which are operational. Yet, many companies want to dramatically increase that number. Satellite operators are eager to launch thousands of probes that can beam internet connectivity down to Earth, providing global coverage. SpaceX has filed applications with the FCC to launch nearly 12,000 internet-beaming satellites — first, an initial constellation of 4,425 probes, followed by a constellation of 7,518. Meanwhile, the European company OneWeb received approval to launch up to 720 satellites from the FCC, and it recently requested permission to launch an additional 1,260.

Read more at: Verge

China’s Tiangong-2 Space Station Is Set To Re-Enter Earth’s Atmosphere

China’s second space station, Tiangong-2, is coming back to Earth as planned. It will finish its two-year mission as a temporary space station and start de-orbiting for a controlled destruction in the middle of next year.

After a year of delay, Tiangong-2 blasted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi Desert of northern China, in September 2016. This 8.6-tonne spacecraft serves as a laboratory for 14 experiments including a plant cultivation study, a quantum communication experiment, and a robotic arm.

Read more at: New Scientist

Cruz Wants NASA To Consider Revenue Opportunities From Commercial Activities

As NASA shows growing interest in commercial activities, from space station research to merchandise, one senator wants the agency to financially benefit from them.

During a hearing of the Senate space subcommittee Sept. 26, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the subcommittee, mentioned commercial research performed by major companies on the International Space Station through partnerships with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit that operates the portion of the ISS designated a national laboratory.

Read more at: Spacenews

Americans Are Dubious Of Space Travel

Space exploration is popular. But would you personally go into space? The latest Economist/YouGov Poll finds the American public strongly in support of sending astronauts to the moon again and sending astronauts to explore Mars. They favor independent space exploration, like Elon Musk’s SpaceX program. But when it comes to taking the trip themselves – even if money were no object and you could afford the cost – most would reject the opportunity.

Men certainly would think about going to the moon or taking a short flight in space, as they divide evenly on the questions. Women, however, by three to one, wouldn’t take the chance. There are also age differences, with those under 30 twice as willing as those 65 and older to fly into space. Most men under the age of 45 would go into space, but women even in those age groups would not.

Read more at: yougov

Satellite Company Partners With Bezos’ AWS To Bring Internet Connectivity To The ‘Whole Planet’

Iridium Communications announced a partnership with Amazon Web Services this week, to develop a satellite-based network called CloudConnect for Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

“We’re really covering the whole planet … with terrestrial networks today it’s still only 10 percent or 20 percent” of the Earth, Iridium CEO Matt Desch told CNBC on Thursday. “Everybody today can connect pretty easily with very little effort. Now that Amazon has put our language into the cloud platform, they can extend their applications to the satellite realm.”

CloudConnect, which the company expects to launch in 2019, makes Iridium “the first, and only, satellite provider now connected to” Amazon Web Services, Desch said. The CloudConnect network will focus on “where cellular technologies aren’t,” Desch said, bringing the rest of the world within reach of AWS.

Read more at: CNBC

Expace of China to Launch Kuaizhou-1A Rocket on September 29

Chinese commercial company Expace will launch its second Kuaizhou-1A launch vehicle from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre on September 29, according to airspace closure notices.

According to a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) filed with aviation authorities, liftoff will take place between 04:05 and 04:36 universal time (12:05-12:36 local, 00:05-00:36 Eastern).

The 20-metre-tall, 1.4-meter-diameter Kuaizhou-1A solid-fuelled rocket is capable of lifting 200 kg of payload to a 700 km Sun-synchronous orbit. It will launch a small satellite named Centispace-1-S1, about which very little is known.

Read more at: Gbtimes

100th Launch Of Europe’s Ariane 5 Rocket Sends A Pair Of Telecom Satellites Into Orbit

The milestone 100th launch of Europe’s heavy-lift Ariane 5 rocket put two telecommunications satellites into geostationary transfer orbit today. The rocket rose from Arianespace’s launch site in Kourou, French Guiana, at 7:38 p.m. local time (3:38 p.m. PT), after a 45-minute delay. The dual payloads were the Boeing-built Horizons-3e satellite, which will provide telecom coverage for Intelsat and Japan’s SKY Perfect JSAT in the Asia-Pacific region; and Azerspace-2/Intelsat-38, built by Maxar/SSL to boost communications coverage in Europe, Asia and Africa for Azercosmos and Intelsat.

Read more at: Geekwire

Chinese Contractor Claims Progress On Reusable Spaceplane

A Chinese space and defence contractor has claimed it has made breakthroughs in the development of a hybrid spaceplane which could revolutionise access to space.

The China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) says power challenges for its Tengfei-1 spaceplane—which takes off from a runway atop a larger plane and sends crew or cargo in orbit—have already been solved.

“Combined power is the key technology of future space vehicles of this kind. We have recently completed the flight test of Tengfei-1 and it was the first flight test in China that had realised the mode conversion of combined power. This step plays a key role in the future development of the combined power in aerospace vehicles,” Zou Hong, head of the commercial space administration of the third research institute under CASIC, told CCTV.

Read more at: Gbtimes

Mysterious Cosmic Rays Shooting from the Ground in Antarctica Could Break Physics

There’s something strange happening beneath the surface of Antarctica and it’s got nothing to do with Nazi UFOs. Rather, researchers are arguing that a decade-old experiment may have furnished the first evidence of a new type of particle that has evaded detection by some of the most sophisticated particle accelerators for years. If they turn out to be correct, it would change physics as we know it.

In 2006, NASA-affiliated researchers launched Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA), a balloon experiment meant to observe high energy particles that shower the Earth from space, also known as cosmic rays. During ANITA’s flight, however, its instruments observed something that physicists couldn’t explain. In addition to detecting cosmic rays from space, ANITA also detected cosmic rays shooting fromthe ground as the high altitude balloon drifted over the Antarctic ice sheet.

Read more at: Motherboard Vice

Paul G. Allen’s Stratolaunch Space Venture Is Lifting The Veil On Its PGA Rocket Engine

The name of Stratolaunch Systems’ home-grown rocket engine leaves no doubt about who’s footing the bill: It’s called the PGA, as in Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen.

Stratolaunch has made glancing references to its in-house propulsion system development program over the past few months — for example, in its announcement about the full line of rocket-powered vehicles intended for midflight launch from its super-jumbo airplane, or in its proposed roadmap for hypersonic flight tests.

But the PGA rocket engine took center stage today in a report from Aviation Week and in a series of photos released by the Stratolaunch team.

Read more at: Geekwire

Bridenstine Says Relationship With Roscosmos Head Rogozin Is Positive

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine played down any differences with his Russian counterpart as he gears up for meetings with him and other space agency leaders to discuss cooperation on NASA’s exploration plans.

In an interview during a Washington Space Business Roundtable luncheon here Sept. 24, Bridenstine said the limited interaction he has had to date with the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, has been good as Russia investigates the cause of a hole found in the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft docked to the International Space Station Aug. 30.

Read more at: Spacenews

Compromise Faa Reauthorization Bill Includes Funding Authority, Directives For Faa Space Office – Update

The House and Senate committees that oversee the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reached a compromise on an FAA reauthorization bill late Friday night.  The deal was announced on Saturday and the bill is on the House schedule for a vote this week.  Among its many provisions, the bill authorizes funding for the FAA’s space office through FY2023, directs it to create an Office of Spaceports and develop spaceport policy, and to work closely with another part of the FAA on utilization of the National Airspace System.  The bill includes unrelated provisions as well, such as supplemental emergency funding to respond to Hurricane Florence.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Why NASA’s Space Launch System Is Indispensable

If the 1986 Challenger disaster taught us anything it was: Don’t put all your Space Launch eggs in one basket. After that accident and the other ones that grounded all of America’s older space launch vehicles for about two years, NASA and the Air Force decided to build two sets of rockets under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program.

The EELV program has been a success. Both Atlas V and the various Delta rockets, especially Delta Heavy, have been putting America’s important science and military payloads into space for roughly a quarter of a century.

Read more at: Hill

Inside The Epic Debate On Rethinking Our 50-Year-Old Outer Space Treaty

Space starts 62 miles away, but in the past few months it has felt much closer.

Just yesterday, a pair of Japanese robots may have landed on an asteroid, as part of the country’s research efforts and amid a surge in startups focused on asteroid mining. Last week saw finger-pointing reminiscent of the Cold War over possible sabotage of the Soyuz Spacecraft used by Russia and the U.S. Every other week, there’s another rocket fired into space by one of several eccentric billionaires, who are also trying sell you tickets for orbit (or to colonize Mars). Recently, SpaceX started its launch of thousands of satellites into space to beam internet virtually anywhere in the world. And earlier in the summer President Trump prompted plenty of head-scratching and Star Wars puns with his surprise announcement of a Space Force.

Read more at: Fast company

Gateway Project Is Humanity’s Next Big Step Into Deep Space | Opinion

After 50 years, Americans are headed back into deep space. Our next stepping stone away from Earth will be a combination transportation hub, office, laboratory and home called the Gateway.

Orbiting the moon 250,000 miles from home, Gateway is being designed to function like base camp on Mount Everest. Used by a changing cadre of human beings from different nationalities with a variety of interests, it will begin with one power module but evolve in short time to support a range of activities. Established in lunar orbit by the Space Launch System and staffed by crews delivered on the Orion spacecraft, NASA’s plans call for the Gateway to be fully operational by the mid-2020’s.

Read more at: Florida today

ESA’s Leader Gets Extra Time For His Vision Of European Space

In July, the European Space Agency announced, with surprisingly little fanfare, that it was extending the term of its current director general, Jan Woerner, by two years. Woerner’s four-year term was set to expire next July, just months before the agency’s next triennial ministerial meeting where member states decide what programs to fund and at what levels.

With that extension, Woerner has the confidence that he will be in office for that ministerial meeting, seeking approval for programs to guide ESA’s future. That future contains a number of questions, from the fate of the International Space Station and planning for a return to the moon to emerging challenges like reusable launch vehicles and growing concerns about the safety of the space environment.

Read more at: Spacenews

Bold But Vague: NASA Delivers the Official Road Map for its Future

NASA has finally delivered on what it promised Congress last year, a “National Space Exploration Campaign Report” meant to offer a road map for American space exploration through the 2030s. While noticeably light on details, the report does offer a clear picture of NASA’s path as a new decade approaches.

Chief among those priorities is the Lunar Gateway, a potential space station around the moon, which we’ve been covering in detail. The document mentions the Gateway 26 times in its 21 pages, and describes it as “a lunar orbiting platform to host astronauts farther from Earth than ever before and forge U.S. leadership and presence in the region between the Moon and Earth,”

Read more at: Popular Mechanics

Commentary on the Planetary Society’s “Principles for Human Spaceflight”

Recently The Planetary Society released a set of principles codifying its approach to human spaceflight policy. We welcome the Planetary Society to this new endeavor and applaud the efforts of the Planetary Society to support human spaceflight. While this document is a valuable contribution to the ongoing dialog concerning the means and ends of human spaceflight, we believe that these principles call for further development.

In keeping with the more ambitious goal of spreading human societies throughout the solar system (see the National Space Society Roadmap to Space Settlement as one example), simply making the landing of humans on Mars the “ultimate” goal of human spaceflight is akin to suggesting that the “ultimate” goal of the human diaspora out of Africa was to cross a large river on a dug-out canoe. Additionally, there are a significant number of goals for humans in space that might logically be more compelling than “putting boots on Mars,” including:

Read more at: Space review

Multi-Domain Command And Control Is Coming

In his remarks during this year’s Air Force Association’s Air, Space, and Cyber Conference in National Harber, Maryland, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein explained the importance of Multi-Domain Command and Control in executing the nation’s next fight.

In this fight, Goldfein said, the Air Force must master MDC2 to empower commanders to dominate the air, space, and cyber domains.

Leading the MDC2 effort is Air Force Brig. Gen. Chance Saltzman, director of operations, Headquarters Air Force. Saltzman oversaw the MDC2 Enterprise Capability Collaboration Team, which includes a cross-section of command and control space, cyber and air operator experts.

Read more at: AFSPC

Will the US Military Space Force’s Reach Extend to the Moon?

Leading military space strategy experts are pondering the role of cislunar space in the context of President Donald Trump’s plan to establish a U.S. Space Force.

Just how valuable is that stretch of space between Earth and the moon’s orbit? Might this celestial real estate become hot property as an extension of military arenas in low Earth orbit, medium Earth orbit, and geosynchronous orbit?

Given forecasts of 21st-century activity on and around the moon by both private and government entities, could this be an economic area of development that needs protection in sthe years and decades to come?

Read more at: Space.com

Trump’s Space Force Is Putting Us All in Danger

n June 18, President Trump announced that he was directing the Pentagon to develop a new branch of the US military, a “Space Force” that would give the US “dominance” in that realm. It would be, he said—and here he used a classic phrase from the Jim Crow era of racial segregation—“separate but equal” to the US Air Force. Much of the rest of his announcement sounded like it came directly out of a Star Trek episode. (“My administration is reclaiming America’s heritage as the world’s greatest space-faring nation. The essence of the American character is to explore new horizons and to tame new frontiers…”) And like Jean-Luc Picard captaining the USS Enterprise, he promptly (if redundantly) ordered the “Department of Defense and Pentagon” to make it so.

Read more at: Nation

Why The Phrase ‘Space Tourism’ Should Be Avoided At All Costs

Among my favourite things to read during my childhood (in England, way back in the 1950s), was a comic called the Eagle, especially the adventures of Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future — where the brilliant artwork depicted orbiting cities, jet packs, and alien invaders. When spaceflight became real, the suits worn by Nasa astronauts (and their Soviet ‘cosmonaut’ counterparts) were therefore familiar, as were the routines of launching, docking, and so forth.

My generation avidly followed the succession of heroic pioneering exploits: Yuri Gagarin’s first orbital flight, Alexey Leonov’s first space walk, and then, of course, the lunar landings. I recall a visit to my home town by John Glenn, the first American to go into orbit.

Read more at: Wired

Thirty Years After Return To Flight From Challenger, Commercial Crew Strives For Culture Of Safety

Thirty years ago this weekend, after a two and a half year stand down and an extremely difficult external- and self-examination of a lack of safety within the program, NASA succeeded in returning the Space Shuttle fleet to flight following the devastating loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger and her seven-member crew on the STS-51L mission.

Now, in a radically different era for spaceflight, NASA and its Commercial Crew partners in SpaceX and Boeing are striving to instill a culture of safety that looks beyond just the hard data and probabilistic risk assessment numbers – this as both providers say their vehicles now meet NASA’s 1-in-270 Loss Of Crew requirement benchmark.

Read more at: NASA Spaceflight

Shock Waves from World War II Bombs Felt at Edge of Space

Nearly 80 years on, impacts from the violent bombings of World War II are still felt around the globe. Christopher Scott would know—two of his aunts were killed at just 9 and 11 years of age during the London Blitz, Nazi Germany’s eight-month onslaught against the British.

Those aerial raids didn’t just have rippling effects through generations of families. Scott, who is a space and atmospheric physicist at the University of Reading in the U.K., recently found that the bombs were felt at the edge of space, too.

By combing through archival data, Scott discovered that shock waves from the bombs briefly weakened the ionosphere, the outermost layer of Earth’s atmosphere.

Read more at: Scientific American

Brilliant, Brash And Volatile, Elon Musk Faces New Challenge

He is looking to revolutionize transportation, colonize space and develop implantable brain-computer interfaces. But along with Elon Musk’s grand ambition comes a brash demeanor with little tolerance for criticism.

The founder and chief executive of Tesla and other companies now faces securities fraud charges over a tweet which regulators said misled investors about taking the electric automaker private.

The charges come with Musk facing increased scrutiny over his volatile behavior that has included smoking marijuana during a podcast interview and assailing a Briton involved in the Thailand cave rescue as a “pedo guy.”

Read more at: Spacedaily

“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