Russia’s Space Agency Says Glitch in Manned Soyuz Landing

A manned Soyuz rocket suffered a partial loss of pressure as it returned to Earth earlier this year, Russia’s space agency said Wednesday, in the latest glitch to hit the country’s space industry. The incident during a voyage back from the International Space Station in April did not put the crew’s life in danger, the Roscosmos space agency said in a statement.

“As the Soyuz MS-02 (space capsule) descended from orbit, it experienced a slight loss of pressure during the opening of its main parachute,” Roscosmos said. “This in no way endangered the well-being of the crew as they were wearing sealed space suits.”

Cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko were in the spacecraft with NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, according to a NASA report at the time. The problem came to light during a meeting of NASA’s ISS Advisory Committee this week and was reported by the industry journal Space News. “This situation was investigated with the cooperation of NASA. After that, successful launches and landings of the capsule were carried out,” Roscosmos general director Igor Komarov said in the statement.

Read more at: Journal Aviation

Report Warns NASA to Heed Lessons from Space Shuttle Columbia

NASA’s safety oversight of a new exploration rocket and crew capsule lacks adequate independence and “diminishes lessons learned from the Columbia accident,” congressional watchdogs warned this week. The U.S. Government Accountability Office said some key functions have potentially conflicting roles as the agency develops the Space Launch System rocket, Orion capsule and related ground systems for a first launch from Kennedy Space Center in late 2019.

The technical authorities responsible for monitoring engineering and safety concerns simultaneously hold positions that must help keep those programs on schedule and budget. That puts them in the position of “grading their own homework,” the report says, and potentially makes them less likely to flag risks that would cost time or money to resolve

Read more at: Florida Today

Parts of Unmanned Russian Spaceship Burn Up Over Dubai

Parts of an unmanned Russian cargo spaceship burned across the night sky of the Arabian Peninsula, drawing gasps from Dubai to Riyadh before breaking up in the Earth’s atmosphere and scattering in the Indian Ocean.

The fiery end Monday night to parts of Progress MS-07 came as planned after it delivered 2.5 metric tons (2.75 tons) of water, food and scientific equipment to the astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

But its 80-second appearance in the skies of the United Arab Emirates stunned onlookers in a region where Iran regularly test-fires ballistic missiles and Shiite rebels in Yemen have threatened to use them against Abu Dhabi. Even a day later, government officials still hadn’t corrected their earlier statements identifying the object as a meteor.

Read more at: ABC News

International Station to Orbit Moon at 70,000 km Distance from Earth

The option of creating an international station in a high near-Moon orbit with a 70,000 km apogee (the Moon orbit’s farthest point from the Earth’s center) has been approved as the basic version, Roscosmos Piloted Space Programs Executive Director Sergei Krikalyov told TASS on Friday.

“The question was about whether to fly to a low near-Moon orbit at an altitude of 100-200 km, from which it would be easier to land on the Moon, or to opt for a highly elliptical orbit with an apogee of about 70,000 km,” Krikalyov said on the sidelines of the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students.

“It [the highly elliptical orbit] is unstable and has its own advantages and disadvantages. It can be used as a transitional point, from which it is possible to fly both to the Moon and into deep space. After weighing all the arguments for and against, we decided that cooperation in a high near-Moon orbit is the most effective next step,” he said.

Read more at: TASS

Why We Go to the Moon

I was engaged in two workshop-conferences last week in Columbia, Maryland. The first was the annual meeting of the Lunar Exploration and Analysis Group (LEAG)—a group of lunar scientists and engineers who came to share ideas about new missions, measurements and exploration. The second workshop specifically focused on a return to the Moon—what architectural approaches, equipment and organization are needed to accomplish this feat. In a manner similar to our previous attempts at lunar return, I kept hearing a distinctive low buzz at these meetings: Why are we going to the Moon? What’s the mission?

These same questions were asked in 2004 after the Moon was announced as a destination, and planning for the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE) commenced. I’ve since memorized the stitches on this fastball, so it doesn’t surprise me at all when I hear them raised now.

Read more at: Air & Space Magazine

Want to Go to Mars? The Risks May Not be Worth it, Says UNLV Prof

Nearly 50 years after we went to the Moon, Mars is in our sights. Tesla & SpaceX’s Elon Musk says that’s where he wants to go next, planning to send astronauts to the red planet in the coming years. He’s even said he wants to die on Mars. But, new research from UNLV suggests … that could come sooner than Musk may like. Frank Cucinotta is a professor at UNLV and co-author of a new study about the health effects of a trip to Mars.

Read more at: knpr

Canso Residents Prepare for Economic Liftoff from Proposed Spaceport

A company striving to build a rocket spaceport near the small Nova Scotia fishing community of Canso says local residents and businesses already have plans to capitalize on the aeronautical opportunity. Maritime Launch Services plans to build a $100-million satellite launch facility about 2½ kilometres from the community, which is about 300 kilometres east of Halifax. The project still needs to move through a series of regulatory hurdles before construction can begin, but company president Steve Matier said he’s already heard “a lot” from residents.

One problem highlighted at a recent open house meeting was accommodations. The community has one motel, which is not nearly enough to handle the dozens of workers that could be hired or the countless tourists a rocket launch could attract. “Some people said they’re transforming a bedroom so that it’s got its own bathroom, and walling rooms off and setting it up as a bed and breakfast,” Matier said.

Read more at: CBC

Future Solar Storms Could Cause Devastating Damage

Humanity has begun collectively grappling with the potential dangers of global threats such as climate change. But few authorities are planning for catastrophic solar storms—gigantic eruptions of mass and energy from the sun that disrupt the earth’s magnetic field. In a recent preprint paper, two Harvard University scientists estimate the economic damage from such an event will increase in the future and could equal the current U.S. GDP—about $20 trillion—150 years from now.

There are precedents for this kind of storm. The so-called Carrington Event of 1859 began with a bright solar flare and an ejection of magnetized, high-energy particles that produced the most intense mag­netic storm ever recorded on the earth. It caused brilliant auroras in the atmosphere and even delivered electric shocks to tele­graph operators. But a Carrington-scale storm today would cause far more harm because society now depends so heavily on electrical power grids, communications satellites and GPS.

Read more at: Scientific American

SpaceX, Spacecom to Launch New Satellites After Explosion Last Year

Israel’s Space Communications has signed a deal with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to launch two communication satellites into orbit, after a prior attempt ended in disaster. The explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket last year at Cape Canaveral in Florida dealt a major blow to the Israeli satellite operator. But Space Communications said on Wednesday the first new satellite, Amos-17, would be sent into orbit in 2019 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at no extra cost.

Spacecom said it had agreed to pay SpaceX up to $62 million to launch a second satellite, Amos-8, a year later. The agreements are welcome news for Spacecom after a couple of years of setbacks beyond the SpaceX explosion. In 2015 it lost contact with one of its satellites and earlier this year its controlling shareholder became the target of a securities investigation.

Amos-17, bought from Boeing Satellite Systems International for $161 million, is aimed at expanding and strengthening Spacecom’s coverage of growing satellite service markets in Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

Read more at: Reuters

World’s Largest Methane-fueled Rocket Engine Test-fired by Blue Origin

Blue Origin has conducted the first hotfire test of its BE-4 rocket engine in West Texas, a powerplant fueled by liquified natural gas and liquid oxygen that will power the company’s heavy-lift New Glenn rocket and perhaps United Launch Alliance’s next-generation Vulcan launcher, officials announced Thursday.

The company released a six-second video of the test-firing, showing the engine from four angles. A Blue Origin spokesperson did not respond to questions on the hotfire test, and officials did not disclose the duration of the test or the engine’s throttle setting. Backed by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin has developed the BE-4 engine with mostly private funding for multiple uses.

Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket, set for an inaugural launch around 2020, will have seven BE-4 engines on its first stage, and a single BE-4 engine on its second stage. United Launch Alliance has tapped the BE-4 as the primary engine option for the Vulcan rocket, a replacement for the company’s Atlas 5 rocket scheduled to debut around the end of 2019.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Ready to Launch: Vector-R Rocket to Launch at Wallops Island

A nanosatellite launch company will conduct three commercial orbital missions from Wallops Flight Facility over the next two years, with an option for five more launches in the future.Vector, a company made up of new-space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, Sea Launch, and VMware made the agreement with the Virginia Commerical Space Flight Authority (Virginia Space).

“As home to one of only four spaceports in the nation that launches to orbit, the Commonwealth of Virginia is one of the most attractive places to do business both on and off this world,” said Governor McAuliffe. “We’re thrilled to welcome Vector as a customer of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport.  It is a testament to Virginia’s ongoing efforts to build the New Virginia Economy by providing a highly skilled workforce and start of the art facilities for this dynamic 21st Century launch provider to choose MARS as a launch site.”

Read more at: 13newsnow

Scientists Scout Lunar Caverns as Possible Sites for a Moon Base

For years, lunar scientists have been intrigued by pits and holes that pock the surface of the moon. Since 2009, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has hypothesized that some of these holes are actually skylights leading to vast underground networks of caves and caverns carved by lava flows in the moon’s ancient past, known as lava tubes. If such subterranean realms exist, they could be perfect for constructing habitats and research stations on the moon, safely shielded from the radiation and intense sunlight that bombards the lunar surface.

Recently, new research from NASA, JAXA, as well as the University of Padova and the University of Bologna in Italy has supported the idea that vast underground networks exist on the moon, stretching for dozens of miles, large enough to house city-sized colonies.

Read more at: Popular Mechanics

Japan’s Lunar Orbiter Discovers 50km Cave Beneath Surface

Data from a lunar orbiter has confirmed a cave beneath the surface of the moon that could be used as an exploration base, providing shelter for astronauts and instruments, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said Wednesday. The lunar orbiter Kaguya, also known as Selene, discovered the tube-shaped, 50km cave by using its radar sounder system that examines underground structures.

The cave was found at an area with a set of volcanic domes known as the Marius Hills. The orbiter detected a hole about 50 meters in diameter and depth at the site in 2009, prompting experts to suspect that there could be a hollow space underground.

JAXA said the latest finding is remarkable, as the cave could help in exploration of the moon, shielding astronauts from extreme temperature and high radiation from space. The underground chamber was possibly created by volcanic activities, the agency said.

Read more at: Asia Nikkei

FAA Prepares Guidance for Wave of 3D-printed Aerospace Parts

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is drafting a comprehensive plan for grappling with the aerospace industry’s rapid adoption of additive manufacturing.

“Three to four years ago, none of my peers believed we would see additive manufacturing of safety-critical parts,” Michael Gorelik, Federal Aviation Administration chief scientific and technical adviser for fatigue and damage tolerance, said Oct. 19 at the Additive Aerospace conference here. “We don’t have them yet, but based on the leading indicators I see it’s coming and it’s coming fairly fast.”

In late September, an FAA team submitted a draft Additive Manufacturing Strategic Roadmap to managers at the agency’s headquarters for review. The document recommends steps the agency will need to take in the next seven to eight years to address additive manufacturing from a regulatory standpoint, including certification policies, manufacturing policies and maintenance policies. The plan also addresses the need for additional research and development as well as workforce education and training.

Read more at: Space News

China Progressing with Work on New Medium, Heavy and Super-heavy Long March Launch Vehicles

China is making progress on two new soon-to-fly rockets and will move on to develop a range of new launch vehicles with various capabilities before 2030, senior space officials have said.

Long Lehao, chief carrier rocket designer at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), said at a 2017 World Space Week conference earlier in October that China will develop 12 types of new-generation Long March carrier rockets by 2030. This will include a Saturn V-class super-heavy lift rocket that will be capable of launching a human mission to the Moon.

CALT is a subsidiary of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the main contractor for China’s space programme, and has developed a range of Long March rockets to meet various needs.

Read more at: Gbtimes

How Fit will Astronauts be After Years in Space?

After spending months or years in space during future long-term missions, returning to Earth can be challenging for astronauts — and one set of researchers is finding out just how challenging using a life-size spacecraft model.

Using a mock-up of NASA’s Orion spacecraft, scientists monitored the health and fitness levels of “astronauts” as they performed emergency escape maneuvers, simulating what crews undergo during their return to Earth. “Maintaining astronaut health is critical to NASA missions, and we need to be able to keep astronauts safe in flight and during landing,” Carl Ade, assistant professor of exercise physiology at Kansas State University, said in a statement. “By knowing fitness and health standards, we can determine types of in-f[l]ight interventions to keep astronauts healthy on long-duration missions that can last several years.”

Read more at: Space.com

A Mission to Mars Could Make its Own Oxygen Thanks to Plasma Technology

Plasma technology could hold the key to creating a sustainable oxygen supply on Mars, a new study has found. It suggests that Mars, with its 96 per cent carbon dioxide atmosphere, has nearly ideal conditions for creating oxygen from CO2 through a process known as decomposition.

Published today in the journal Plasma Sources Science and Technology, the research by the universities of Lisbon and Porto, and École Polytechnique in Paris, shows that the pressure and temperature ranges in the Martian atmosphere mean non-thermal (or non-equilibrium) plasma can be used to produce oxygen efficiently.

Lead author Dr Vasco Guerra, from the University of Lisbon, said: “Sending a manned mission to Mars is one of the next major steps in our exploration of space. Creating a breathable environment, however, is a substantial challenge.

Read more at: Eurekalert

Companies Seek Roles in NASA’s Return to the Moon

As NASA develops a plan to carry out a new administration policy calling for a human return to the moon, companies developing lunar landers and related infrastructure are seeking to play a role.

At the annual meeting of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) and a follow-on “Back to the Moon” workshop here, four companies presented plans to develop robotic lunar landers that they argued could serve both commercial and government missions to the lunar surface in support of that new policy.

Opportunities for partnership presented at the meetings by those companies range from the purchase of services on commercial landers under development to the use of public-private partnerships to develop those systems.

Read more at: Spacenews

Bigelow Aerospace and United Launch Alliance Announce Agreement to Place a B330 Habitat in Low Lunar Orbit

Bigelow Aerospace and United Launch Alliance (ULA) are working together to launch a B330 expandable module on ULA’s Vulcan launch vehicle.  The launch would place a B330 outfitted module in Low Lunar Orbit by the end of 2022 to serve as a lunar depot.

“We are excited to work with ULA on this lunar depot project,” said Robert Bigelow, president of Bigelow Aerospace. “Our lunar depot plan is a strong complement to other plans intended to eventually put people on Mars. It will provide NASA and America with an exciting and financially practical success opportunity that can be accomplished in the short term. This lunar depot could be deployed easily by 2022 to support the nation’s re-energized plans for returning to the Moon.

“This commercial lunar depot would provide anchorage for significant lunar business development in addition to offering NASA and other governments the Moon as a new exciting location to conduct long-term exploration and astronaut training.”

Read more at: ULA Launch

Microbes Leave “Fingerprints” on Martian Rocks

Scientists around Tetyana Milojevic from the Faculty of Chemistry at the University of Vienna are in search of unique biosignatures, which are left on synthetic extraterrestrial minerals by microbial activity. The biochemist and astrobiologist investigates these signatures at her own miniaturized “Mars farm” where she can observe interactions between the archaeon Metallosphaera sedula and Mars-like rocks. These microbes are capable of oxidizing and integrating metals into their metabolism. The original research was currently published in the journal “Frontiers in Microbiology”.

At the Department of Biophysical Chemistry at the University of Vienna, Tetyana Milojevic and her team have been operating a miniaturized “Mars farm” in order to simulate ancient and probably extinct microbial life – based on gases and synthetically produced Martian regolith of diverse composition.

Read more at: Medien portal

These Giant Printers are Meant to Make Rockets

Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone are both in their mid-20s, and it shows. The two aerospace engineers are energetic, optimistic, and so ambitious they can’t help sounding a little bonkers. In a small factory a couple of miles from Los Angeles International Airport, Ellis and Noone have spent the past two years working to build a rocket using only 3D printers. Their startup, Relativity Space Inc., is betting that removing humans from the manufacturing equation will make rockets way cheaper and faster to produce. The going rate for a rocket launch is about $100 million; Relativity says that in four years its price will be $10 million. “This is the right direction,” says Ellis, the chief executive officer, during the first-ever press tour of the company’s headquarters. “The 3D printing and automation of rockets is inevitable.”

That direction is less obvious than he makes it sound. Although a couple of companies have 3D-printed whole rocket engines and other parts to make them more durable (molten metal shaped into a single part is less vulnerable to wear and tear than a bunch of pieces fitted together), 3D printing tends to be slower and more expensive than old-fashioned welding. Faced with that problem, Relativity decided the solution was to build its own printers.

Read more at: Bloomberg

The 2 Main Steps Richard Branson is Taking to Prepare for his Trip to Space

Self-made billionaire Richard Branson recently said he expects to be in space in six months or else he’ll be disappointed. Leading up to his upcoming travel with Virgin Galactic, a business he created to provide commercial flights to space, Branson said he’s actually been taking two steps to make sure he’s prepared for his trip: exercising on a daily basis and doing centrifuge training to simulate gravity.

During an interview with Esquire editor-in-chief Jay Fielden for a Master Class at Hearst Tower, Branson said this project has been 12 years in the making and has taken “lots of tears and hard work, but we’re nearly there.” In his new autobiography, “Finding My Virginity,” Branson said that getting into space with Virgin Galactic has been one of his biggest challenges.

Read more at: CNBC

Who Owns Space?

We’re standing at the starting line of a new space race, one that could trigger a gold rush-like hunt for resources. Companies are lining up to launch space mining missions, and countries are passing laws to allow them. There’s just one problem: Under some interpretations of the 50-year-old Outer Space Treaty, which was signed by almost 100 countries, none of this is legal.

The bottom line: In the past, the answer to the question “who owns space?” was easy: everyone and no one. Soon, that might not be true.

Where it stands: Goldman Sachs thinks we should prospect asteroids for platinum. Companies like Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries hope to launch space mining missions before 2030. Luxembourg passed a lawlegalizing such operations this past summer, as did the United States in 2015.

Read more at: Axios

Airmen Provide Exacting Space Operations

Thousands upon thousands of debris pieces are traversing Earth’s orbit. Along with the debris are satellites performing a plethora of functions and even manned vehicles like the International Space Station. Space Operators fill the critical role of keeping it all sorted out.

Overall, the mission of the 18th SPCS is to deliver foundational space situational awareness to assure global freedom of action in space. The squadron is a geographically separated unit of, and the newest addition to, the 21st Space Wing. The squadron was activated in the summer of 2016.

But what exactly does a Space Operator at 18th SPCS do? The Air Force Specialty Code for the career field may seem broad at first, but it’s made up of several specific roles and airmen performing highly detailed functions. Airmen serve as Orbital Safety Analysts, Orbital Analysts, Space Console Operators and Orbital Safety Technicians, to name a few. The Orbital Analyst plays a serious role in making event data available quickly once an object is in space.

Read more at: AFSPC

Crash Scene Investigation: Resting Place of ESA’s First Lunar Mission Found

By analyzing high-resolution images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), researchers have identified the final resting place of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) first lunar mission, known as SMART-1. The spacecraft was deliberately crashed into the Moon 11 years ago.

The Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology-1 (SMART-1) was a Swedish-built lunar orbiter launched into space on September 27, 2003. It was a technology demonstration mission tasked with testing solar electric propulsion and other deep-space technologies. Meanwhile, the satellite was used to conduct scientific observations of the Moon.

SMART-1’s mission lasted almost three years and concluded with a planned impact on the Moon’s surface on September 3, 2006, somewhere in the Lacus Excellentiae (Latin for “Lake of Excellence”) region. However, the exact impact site of the spacecraft remained unknown until a recent analysis of images provided by LRO shed some new light on this mystery.

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

This Strange Sensor Russia Sent to the ISS is Baffling US Military Experts

A Russian spacecraft on a routine mission to the International Space Station (ISS) apparently carried a surprise payload: a secretive sensor that experts said could be related to a controversial military initiative.

The spacecraft, which the Russian space agency designated Progress MS-07, blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in southern Kazakhstan on October 12. The main mission of the unmanned Progress rockets is to haul supplies to the ISS. After unloading the supplies, the station crew tosses its garbage into the now-empty Progress capsule. The craft separates from the station and, after a couple of days, tumbles back to Earth and burns up.

Russia often takes advantage of those extra couple of days to position small satellites or perform brief experiments unrelated to the space station. Progress MS-07, for example, carried a small data-relay satellite and a miniature robot that’s part of a Russian company’s social media campaign.

Read more at: Motherboard Vice

A Solar Flare Recorded from Spain in 1886

Satellites have detected powerful solar flares in the last two months, but this phenomenon has been recorded for over a century. On 10 September 1886, at the age of just 17, a young amateur astronomer using a modest telescope observed from Madrid one of these sudden flashes in a sunspot. He wrote about what he saw, drew a picture of it, and published the data in a French scientific journal. This is what researchers from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias and the Universidad de Extremadura have recently found.

“A huge, beautiful sunspot was formed from yesterday to today. It is elongated due to its proximity to the limb … by looking at it carefully I noticed an extraordinary phenomenon on her, on the penumbra to the west of the nucleus, and almost in contact with it, a very bright object was distinguishable producing a shadow clearly visible on the sunspot penumbra. This object had an almost circular shape, and a light beam came out from its eastern part that crossed the sunspot to the south of the nucleus, producing a shadow on the penumbra that was lost in the large mass of faculae surrounding the eastern extreme of the sunspot”.

Read more at: Eurekalert

XCOR Running Out of Time to Find Investor

XCOR Aerospace, a company forced to lay off its staff earlier this year when it ran into financial problems, has only weeks left to find an investor willing to rebuild the company or else face liquidation, the company’s chief executive says.

In an Oct. 19 interview, Michael Blum, a member of the board of directors of XCOR who took over as chief executive at the end of June, said the company has been in discussions with potential strategic partners and other investors interested in its propulsion technology and Lynx suborbital spaceplane, but those negotiations have taken longer than expected to finalize.

“Our time is slowly running out,” Blum said. The XCOR board and its major shareholders have been providing a “minimum amount of capital” over the last several months to keep the company going and pay its bills, but said their patience is running out. “Once that happens, the future gets very bleak.”

Read more at: Spacenews

The Place Spacecraft Go to Die

China’s Tiangong-1 space station is currently out of control and expected to fall back to Earth next year. But not in the remote place where many other spacecraft end their days.

Explorers and adventurers often look for new places to conquer now that the highest peaks have been climbed, the poles reached and vast oceans and deserts crossed. Some of these new places are called the poles of inaccessibility. Two of them are particularly interesting. One is called the continental pole of inaccessibility – it’s the place on Earth furthest from the ocean. There is some debate as to its exact position but it’s considered by many to be near the so-called Dzungarian Gate – a mountain pass between China and Central Asia.

The equivalent point in the ocean – the place furthest away from land – lies in the South Pacific some 2,700km (1,680 miles) south of the Pitcairn Islands – somewhere in the no-man’s land, or rather no-man’s-sea, between Australia, New Zealand and South America.

Read more at: BBC

Will Insurance Force Russia’s Proton Rocket Out of the Commercial Satellite Business?

In what may be a first in the space industry, the cost of insuring a major veteran commercial-launch vehicle is so much higher than its two competitors as to raise questions about the rocket’s commercial viability.

Insurance premiums for launches of International Launch Services’ Russian Proton rocket, which satellite operators and insurers say is a necessary third leg for the commercial market — the SpaceX Falcon 9 and the ArianeGroup Ariane 5 being the other two — total about 12% of the insured value. That compares with 3-4% for Ariane 5 and 4-5% for the Falcon 9.
In dollar terms, that means that ILS customers seeking a $200 million policy covering the the value of the satellite, the launch and the satellite’s first year in orbit, would pay a $24 million premium. The same customer launching the same satellite on Falcon 9 or the Ariane 5 would pay no more than $10 million, and possibly less.

Read more at: Space intel report

Turkish Space Agency to be Established this Legislative Year; Manned Spaceflight an Objective

According to Ahmet Arslan, the Turkish Minister for Transport, Maritime Affairs, and Communications, the eagerly anticipated Turkish space agency will be established this legislative year.

Quoted in Turkish newspaper The Daily Sabah, Arslan justified the need for a Turkish space agency when he said, “As we have seen, the fact that we have a general directorate and that there are structures under different names in other units make it difficult for the country to follow a single policy within a common framework and make it difficult to quickly achieve the target.”

Arslan also said that once established, the Turkish space agency shall oversee all Turkish satellite manufacturing and needs, the development of Turkey’s own indigenous space launch capability and launch centre, all other aerospace requirements, and even a human spaceflight programme.

Read more at: Spacewatch ME

Bridenstine Wins a Democrat’s Support for NASA’s Top Job

Jim Bridenstine has been nominated to lead the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as its 13th administrator. It is my honor to support his nomination.

NASA’s mission is to go where no one has gone before, explore the unknown, and reveal the secrets of the universe for the benefit of America and the world. This iconic agency has been at the forefront of scientific discovery for almost 60 years. Jim Bridenstine is well-equipped to lead NASA as it develops return missions to the moon, sends astronauts to Mars, explores distant planets and their moons, looks into deep space from the Hubble and soon-to-be launched James Webb Space Telescopes, and assists with understanding the sun and both short- and long-term weather patterns.

Read more at: Orlando Sentinel

Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson, and Finding My Virginity

This month marked the 13th anniversary of the final powered flight of SpaceShipOne, the flight that earned Scaled Composites the $10-million Ansari X PRIZE for commercial suborbital spaceflight. It was then heralded as the beginning of a new era, with companies like Virgin Galactic, leveraging the technology successfully demonstrated on SpaceShipOne, soon taking hundreds or thousands of people into space.

That flight remains, to this day, the last commercial human suborbital spaceflight.

Schedules are something of a sore subject for Virgin Galactic, who at the time of the X PRIZE victory expected to be taking people into space on its own vehicle as soon as 2008 or 2009. In late 2017, commercial service has yet to begin.

Read more at: Space Review

Space Law Legend Isabella Diederiks-Verschoor Dies at 102

The International Institute of Space Law (IISL) said today that Prof. Dr. Isabella Diederiks-Verschoor passed away yesterday.  She was 102. Diederiks-Verschoor was one of the founders of the field of space law and of IISL.  She was IISL’s President from 1973-1990.

As recounted in a history of the IISL by Steven Doyle, immediately after the launch of Sputnik in October 1957, Andrew Haley, soon to become President of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), proposed creation of a committee of lawyers and physicists to define the regions of jurisdiction between air and space.  The first colloquium on space law was subsequently held in 1958 in The Hague.  It led to creation of the IISL, originally as part of the IAF (it is now a separate entity).

Read more at: Space policy online

Lawmakers Say China Building ‘Unfriendly Navy in Space’

Is China building an “unfriendly navy in space”? Some powerful American lawmakers said “yes” at a space conference in Alabama this month. And that means any dreams of China as part of an international Team Humanity sailing to distant worlds – and helping pay for it – just aren’t coming true anytime soon.

U.S. Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) represents the 7th Congressional District in Houston, home of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. More importantly, Culberson chairs the subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee that writes NASA’s budget.

When Culberson talks space, people listen. And he did that Oct. 6 in Huntsville on a panel at the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop.

Read more at: Al

Why Should We Go?

In the 56 years since Yuri Gagarin became the first human to cross the Kármán line and enter outer space, more than 530 others have done the same. Between the present-day plans of Russia, China, NASA, and several private companies, along with the longer-term aspirations of others, human spaceflight appears poised to continue into the foreseeable future. Yet as the 50th anniversary of the first human Moon landing quickly approaches, an important question remains without a definitive answer: why?

For many, if not most, who study, work on, or follow human spaceflight, the prevailing reason for its continuation intuitively exists beyond practical or material motivations: simply because space, to quote President Kennedy’s famous speech at Rice University in 1962, “is there.” To them (us), a meaningful rationale is not so much a justification of why human spaceflight could continue as it is a defense of why it should. Humanity’s expansion into space is taken as an ordained inevitability and our pursuit of it a compelled calling.

Read more at: Space Review