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China Conducts Maiden Launch of Powerful Long March 5 Booster

Thundering off from Launch Complex 1 (LC-1) at the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island, China’s powerful Long March 5 rocket started its first test flight. The launch vehicle, carrying an experimental satellite, lifted off at 8:43 a.m. EDT (12:43 GMT) on Thursday, Nov. 3.

Originally planned for late 2014, the debut of Long March 5 was delayed for two years. The next launch date was set for September 2016; however, it was postponed once again to Nov. 3. Tests of this booster began last year in September and lasted for more than four months. They were carried out at the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center and were necessary to check the compatibility of the rocket with ground facilities at the center. The final field tests were concluded in February 2016. On Oct. 28, the rocket was rolled out to the launch pad.

Igniting its core stage, powered by two YF-77 engines, and its four strap-on boosters fitted with one YF-100 engine each, the Long March 5 launch vehicle in its basic “E” configuration commenced a short vertical ascent. Then the rocket turned east and started heading toward over the South China Sea.

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

New Approaches for Managing Space Traffic

The closest thing there is to a “space traffic cop” in Earth orbit no longer wants the job.

For years, government and commercial satellite operators have relied on warnings from the Air Force’s Joint Space Operations Center, or JSpOC (pronounced “jay-spock”), to provide warnings of potential collisions between satellites and other objects in orbit. The Air Force had the assets to track objects in orbit, and it was in their best interest to prevent collisions that could create more space debris and thus increase the risk to its own spacecraft.

In recent years, though, the Pentagon has suggested it no longer wants the responsibility for issuing warnings for all satellites. With growing concerns about threats to its own satellites, officials have indicated they would be willing to hand over monitoring of non-military satellites to another organization.

Read more at: Space Review

NASA Advisory Committee Questions SpaceX’s Unorthodox Fueling Process

NASA advisory committee has twice questioned SpaceX’s fueling process — a procedure that came under closer scrutiny after one of the company’s rockets exploded on a launch pad in September while being fueled.

The group’s concerns — expressed before and after the explosion — show ongoing doubt with the Hawthorne company’s unorthodox fueling practice as it plans to transport astronauts to the International Space Station. Those worries, analysts say, aren’t likely to affect the company’s return to flight, though they could delay SpaceX’s timeline for manned space station trips.

A member of the International Space Station advisory committee asked Monday how NASA will evaluate the safety of SpaceX’s fueling procedure when astronauts are on board as part of the commercial crew program. This question was first raised in a letter in December 2015, according to the Wall Street Journal, 10 months before the explosion that destroyed one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets and a commercial communications satellite.

Read more at: LA Times

SpaceX Zeroes in on Helium Containers for Rocket Explosion

SpaceX has zeroed in on what caused one of the private space company’s Falcon 9 rockets to explode on the launch pad nearly two months ago.

The Federal Aviation Association, NASA and the U.S. Air Force launched a joint investigation of the malfunction from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral in Florida. On Friday, the company announced replicated the failure of a helium tank and plans to return to flight “by the end of the year.”

“SpaceX’s efforts are now focused on two areas – finding the exact root cause, and developing improved helium loading conditions that allow SpaceX to reliably load Falcon 9,” SpaceX said in a statement. “With the advanced state of the investigation, we also plan to resume stage testing in Texas in the coming days, while continuing to focus on completion of the investigation.” The test site is in McGregor in central Texas.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Schiaparelli Crash Site in Colour

New high-resolution images taken by a NASA orbiter show parts of the ExoMars Schiaparelli module and its landing site in colour on the Red Planet.

Schiaparelli arrived in the Meridiani Planum region on Mars on 19 October, while its mothership began orbiting the planet. The Trace Gas orbiter will make its first science observations during two of its highly elliptical circuits around Mars – corresponding to eight days – starting on 20 November, including taking its first images of the planet since arriving.

The new image of Schiaparelli and its hardware components was taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, or MRO, on 1 November. The main impact site is now captured in the central portion of the swath that is imaged by the high-resolution camera through three filters, enabling a colour image to be constructed.

Read more at: ESA

Virgin Galactic Calls Off SpaceShipTwo’s Glide Test

It is harder to learn to fly a second time. Virgin Galactic, the private spaceflight firm headed by billionaire Richard Branson, lost its first SpaceShipTwo in a pilot-caused crashed in 2014, setting back dreams of passenger spaceflight. The new SpaceShipTwo, named VSS Unity (and not SpaceShipThree), was unveiled in February. Today, slung beneath the wing of its WhiteKnightTwo mothership Eve, Unity took to the sky for its second-ever flight.

The mothership is an essential part of Virgin Galactic’s space program. Carried aloft under the mothership’s wing, the smaller, space-bound craft can just focus on rocketing beyond the atmosphere and then gliding back to Earth. Today, Virgin Galactic was set to test Unity’s ability to glide, but high, gusty winds over the Mojave scratched that plan, and Unity remained attached to Eve throughout the flight.

Read more at: Popsci

NASA Scout Early Warning System Detects First Near-Earth Asteroid

An asteroid is buzzing by at just 600,000km today. But we had advance warning of the 25m chunk of rock and ice thanks to a new NASA ‘intruder alert’ system. The previously unknown asteroid, designated MPEC 2016-U84: 2016 UR36, was spotted on October 25 by the Pan-STARRS telescope on Hawaii. The data was quickly uploaded to NASA’s experimental, automatic threat awareness software named Scout.

Within 10 minutes Scout projected potential flight paths, some of which intersected with Earth. It immediately alerted three other telescopes to help pinpoint the rock’s trajectory. The risk assessment was delivered within hours: in this case, the new asteroid was headed in our direction, but would miss us by a comfortable margin.

Read more at: AU News

Re-Entry: AVUM Rocket Body

The spent upper stage from the inaugural launch of Europe’s Vega rocket in 2012 succumbed to atmospheric drag on November 2, 2016 after four and a half years in orbit.

NORAD ID: 38086
Type: Rocket Body
Object: AVUM Upper Stage
Origin: Europe (ESA)
Inclination: 69.4°

Launch: February 13, 2012 – 10:00 UTC
Launch Vehicle: Vega
Launch Site: ZLV; Guiana Space Center, French Guiana

Re-Entry Prediction: November 2, 2016 – 04:43 UTC +/- 13 Minutes
Re-Entry Zone: Unknown

The Vega Rocket builds the light-lift component in Europe’s line of launch vehicles operated from the Guiana Space Center with Soyuz assigned to medium-class payloads and Ariane 5 doing the heavy lifting. Vega premiered in February 2012 with a shakedown mission carrying mostly inexpensive payloads to demonstrate the all-solid launch vehicle for future customers.

Read more at: Spaceflight 101

Re-Entry: IGS 3A

The Japanese IGS 3A Optical Reconnaissance Satellite re-entered the atmosphere on October 29, 2016 after a decade in orbit collecting intelligence in the form of images at a one-meter ground resolution.

NORAD ID: 29393
Type: Optical Reconnaissance Satellite
Object: IGS 3A (IGS Optical 2)
Origin: Japan
Inclination: 97.5°

Launch: September 11, 2006 – 04:35 UTC
Launch Vehicle: H-IIA
Launch Site: Tanegashima Space Center, Japan

Re-Entry Prediction: October 29, 2016 – 17:07 UTC +/- 43 Minutes
Re-Entry Zone: Unknown

Read more at: Spaceflight 101

10 Disgusting Ways Your Body Betrays You in Space

Space is a great place to visit (we’re told). But it’s tough to live there. Unlike say, Miami, it wasn’t meant for human habitation or extended loitering.

Barring radiation poisoning and direct exposure to the -454.8 degree temperatures and the airlessness, one of the biggest menaces to the fluid-sacks that we call our bodies is zero-gravity. From sudden peeing to dams of sinus-packing mucus, space is hardly a pleasure cruise. Here are the weirdest, and most painful, side effects to consider before your journey.

On Earth, your bladder tells you when to go. As it fills, the pressure on the bottom increases and, when they’re about two-thirds full, that’s when you feel that awkward urge. In space you don’t feel that because of zero G. It’s only when you reach max capacity that you may start to feel it. By then, you’re already going.

Consider Astronaut John Glenn. In 1962 he voided 27 ounces of pee during his—and the nation’s—first orbital flight, with no advance warning. Luckily, he was wearing a roll-on cuff attached to a bag that let him pee hands free. (A great idea, we think, for long road trips or movie theaters).

Read more at: Popsci

Bridenstine: This is Our Sputnik Moment & the Moon will Ensure U.S. Preeminence in Space

Exclaiming “this is our Sputnik moment,” Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) told an audience of lunar scientists and entrepreneurs tonight that the Moon is the pathway to American preeminence in space.  He also addressed comments made several weeks ago by his colleague, Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX), that seemed to contradict his approach to government oversight of commercial space activities, saying that the two views are closer than they appear.

Bridenstine, a former Navy pilot elected to Congress in 2012 who has term-limited himself to three terms (he is in his second term now), has become a leading advocate in Congress for passing laws that create a stable legal and regulatory environment for new types of commercial space activities.  A member of both the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, he has a broad outlook on U.S.civil, commercial and national security space issues.  He introduced the American Space Renaissance Act (ASRA) earlier this year as a compendium of legislative provisions that can be incorporated into various pieces of legislation, including authorization and appropriations bills.  Commercial space is one of the themes in ASRA.

He spoke at a meeting of NASA’s Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) being held at the Universities Space Research Association’s headquarters in Columbia, MD.  The three-day meeting, which concludes tomorrow, has sessions ranging from deeply scientific to highly commercial.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Nations Ask to Play Part in Space Lab

Many nations have reached out to China, seeking to play a part in the country’s future manned space station, a senior space industry official said Wednesday.

“We believe there is a wide range of fields suitable for such international collaboration and these prospective cooperation projects will have huge potential,” said Fu Zhiheng, vice-president of China Great Wall Industry Corp, a State-owned enterprise that is the nation’s only authorized firm for international space collaboration.

“In fact, we are in talks with some foreign countries in this regard,” said Fu, who spoke with China Daily on the sidelines of the 11th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai of Guangdong province. “My company’s Manned Space Cooperation Center works with the China Manned Space Agency and has been pushing forward with related efforts,” he said. Fu did not name any of the nations involved.

China will start launching parts of its permanent manned space station starting in 2018 and put the space station into service around 2022, according to previous reports.

Read more at: China.org

ISRO’s World Record Bid: Launching 83 Satellites on Single Rocket

Indian space agency ISRO is aiming for a world record by putting into orbit 83 satellites, two Indian and 81 foreign, on a single rocket in early 2017, a top official of Antrix Corporation said. He said the company’s order book stands at Rs 500 crore while negotiations are on for launch order for another Rs 500 crore.

“During the first quarter of 2017 we plan to launch a single rocket carrying 83 satellites. Most foreign satellites are nano satellites,” Rakesh Sasibhushan, Chairman-cum-Managing Director of Antrix Corporation told IANS.

Antrix Corporation is the commercial arm of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). He said all the 83 satellites will be put in a single orbit and hence there will not be any switching off and on of the rocket. The major challenge for the proposed mission is to hold the rocket in the same orbit till all the satellites are ejected. He said ISRO will use its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle XL (PSLV-XL) rocket variant for the record launch.

Read more at: Spacedaily

NASA Selects Four Proposals to Investigate Physiological and Behavioral Responses in Humans to Intermittent Artificial Gravity during Bed Rest

NASA’s Human Research Program will fund four proposals that will investigate the sensorimotor, cardiovascular, visual, musculoskeletal, and behavioral responses in humans to intermittent artificial gravity during bed rest. This work is helping NASA develop the resources and countermeasures necessary to ensure astronauts remain healthy as we venture beyond low-Earth orbit and head out to study an asteroid and eventually Mars.

These four proposals will complement seven studies recently selected by the ESA (European Space Agency). The selected proposals will evaluate the possible benefits of artificial gravity on human health in response to the detrimental effects of spaceflight as simulated in a bed rest analog. Analogs provide conditions that are comparable to spaceflight; in this case the incline of the patients and their immobility mimics some of the physiological effects observed in astronauts due to microgravity.

All of the selected studies by NASA and ESA will be conducted in the :envihab facility located in Cologne, Germany at the German Aerospace Center Institute for Aerospace Medicine.

Read more at: NASA

China Commercial Space Travels Expected by 2024

For 200 thousand US dollars you may soon be able to boldly go where few men have gone before. Spacecraft manufacturers at the Zhuhai airshow in Southern China say they are trying to make recreational trips into outer space a reality by 2024.

China’s Long March Launch Vehicles have pushed numerous spacecraft into the stars over the past 30 years, and the company now claims 15 percent of global market share in the transportation sector. The manufacturer says it is planning to build space cars to let tourists experience space travel for a mere 200 thousand US dollars.

“We want to build two types of spacecraft. One weights 10 ton and will fly at 90 kilometers above ground. Another weights 100 ton and will go as high as 120 kilometers. The first one can carry as much as 3 to 5 people and give them about 20 minutes of space experience.” Han Qingping,president of Long March Launch Vehicle Tech.Co said.

Read more at: CCTV

U.S. Air Force Awards Commercial Space-surveillance Contract

The Air Force awarded a contract Oct. 19 to Applied Defense Solutions, Inc., to provide space situational awareness services (SSA), part of the Pentagon’s growing interest in private capabilities that could augment the military’s own SSA.

Tom Kubancik, Applied Defense Solutions’ vice president of advanced programs, said the Columbia, Maryland-based company will work with teammates Lockheed Martin, Pacific Defense Solutions  of Maui, Hawaii, and Kratos RT Logic of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The companies will bring commercially sourced space situational awareness data into the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center, or JICSpOC, at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado Springs to support experiments, exercises and contingency operations. “ADS is acting as a data aggregator,” Kubancik said. “These are primarily common sense activities such as providing real time sensor status, scheduling and ordering without a man in the loop, automated delivery, and performance reporting.

Read more at: Space News

Launchspace Establishes New Space Debris Clean up Firm

Yes, there is a new space debris cleanup sheriff in town and it is a sister company to Launchspace, called “Launchspace Technologies Corporation” (LTC). This organization is focused on supporting commercial, civil and military activities in creating innovative new technologies and systems in order to strengthen and advance the exploitation of space for human advancement.

Although the name is new, it offers decades of relevant experience in all aspects of space flight systems, mission design and operations. LTC already has discovered a new and cost effective approach to removing and controlling low Earth orbital (LEO) debris. This concept may well replace all other proposed remediation ideas.

Read more at: Spacedaily

Launch Abort Engines for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner Undergo Testing

The Launch Abort Engines (LAE) that are planned for use on Boeing’s new CST-100 Starliner spacecraft have completed a series of hot-fire tests in the Mojave Desert in California. Two of the engines were tested by their manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne.

The engines tested used new propellant valves which will be employed on the propulsion system for the Starliner service module. The tests were carried out to validate that these new valves can adjust the propellant flow and control peak thrust.

This system would only be used in the event of an emergency during launch. The LAE has both a fuel valve as well as an oxidizer valve. These were both checked out under NASA’s Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) subcontract. There are four 40,000-pound (177.9-kilonewton) thrust launch abort engines incorporated into the Starliner service module.

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

International Space Crew Wraps Up Nearly Four Months in Orbit

A veteran Russian cosmonaut, a Japanese flight engineer and a NASA scientist-astronaut undocked from the International Space Station and returned to Earth Saturday, landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan to close out a 115-day mission.

With Soyuz MS-01 commander Anatoly Ivanishin at the controls, flanked on the left by flight engineer Takuya Onishi and on the right by NASA’s Kate Rubins, the charred descent module settled to a jarring rocket-and-parachute-assisted touchdown east of Dzhezkazgan at 11:58 p.m. EDT (GMT-4; 9:58 a.m. Sunday local time).

Russian recovery crews deployed nearby reached the capsule within minutes to help the returning station fliers out of the cramped descent module as they began re-adjusting to the unfamiliar pull of Earth’s gravity — and its weather. The crew was greeted by an overcast sky and temperatures in the low 30s Fahrenheit.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

What Happens to a Pathogenic Fungus Grown in Space?

A new study, published this week in mSphere, provides evidence that Aspergillus fumigatus, a significant opportunistic fungal threat to human health, grows and behaves similarly on the International Space Station compared with earth.

The study provides important information that can help with space exploration. As the durations of manned space missions increase, it is vitally important to understand the long-term consequences of microbial exposure on human health in closed human habitats.

One mission of the Microbial Observatory Experiments on the International Space Station is to examine the traits and diversity of fungal isolates, to gain a better understanding of how fungi may adapt to microgravity environments and how this may affect interactions with humans in closed habitats.

Read more at: Spacedaily

PMAS 2017: Six People to Spend Two Weeks in Mars Simulation Habitat in Poland

A group of six space exploration enthusiasts plan to spend two weeks in isolation in a Mars simulation dome mimicking life on the Red Planet. The mission, known as the Poland Mars Analogue Simulation (PMAS), will take place from March 19 to April 1, 2017, inside the Modular Analog Research Station (M.A.R.S.) habitat located near Rzepiennik Biskupi in southern Poland.

The main goal of PMAS 2017 is to conduct research that could someday be crucial for future astronauts living and working on the Martian surface. During their stay inside the dome, the analogue crew will carry out a variety of experiments in the field of geology, biology, psychology, agriculture, and astronomy.

Working in full isolation, the mission team will conduct experiments and measurements in and around the habitat and the nearby exploration site. They will log their activities and report everything to the Mission Support Center (MSC) located in Torun, Northern Poland, some 330 miles (531 kilometers) away from the M.A.R.S. dome. “Mission Support will provide the astronauts with all necessary information and an optimised daily schedule that say when which experiment or activity should be conducted in order to not exceed, for example, the limited power supply of the habitat,” Sebastian Hettrich, PMAS 2017 Project Lead and Mission Director, told SpaceFlight Insider.

PMAS 2017 is managed by the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) in support of the United Nations Program on Space Applications. SGAC is a global non-profit, non-governmental organization and network representing university students and young space professionals to the United Nations, space agencies, industry, and academia.

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

Curiosity Mars Rover Checks Odd-looking Iron Meteorite

Laser-zapping of a globular, golf-ball-size object on Mars by NASA’s Curiosity rover confirms that it is an iron-nickel meteorite fallen from the Red Planet’s sky.

Iron-nickel meteorites are a common class of space rocks found on Earth, and previous examples have been seen on Mars, but this one, called “Egg Rock,” is the first on Mars examined with a laser-firing spectrometer. To do so, the rover team used Curiosity’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument.

Scientists of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) project, which operates the rover, first noticed the odd-looking rock in images taken by Curiosity’s Mast Camera (Mastcam) at at a site the rover reached by an Oct. 27 drive. “The dark, smooth and lustrous aspect of this target, and its sort of spherical shape attracted the attention of some MSL scientists when we received the Mastcam images at the new location,” said ChemCam team member Pierre-Yves Meslin, at the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology (IRAP), of France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the University of Toulouse, France

Read more at: Mars Daily

Microbes will be Essential for Human Survival on Mars

When humans finally set foot on the dusty terrain of Mars, they will not be travelling alone. Some of the astronauts on future missions will be too small to be seen with the naked eye. But that doesn’t mean they won’t have a vital role to play.

A manned mission to Mars will require shelter, breathable air, clothing, food, medicines, energy, and waste removal, among other services. Many of these needs can be met with living organisms. “We have been using biology as technology for literally thousands of years, to make our clothing, to make our houses,” says Lynn Rothschild, an astrobiologist and synthetic biologist at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. “To think that we’re going to do this some other way on Mars is sort of crazy.”

Read more at: Popsci

Oliver Juckenhöfel New Head of Airbus Space Site in Bremen, Responsible for On-Orbit Services and Exploration

Oliver Juckenhöfel (46) is taking over as the new Head of the Airbus space site in Bremen, with effect from 1 November 2016. At the same time, he is assuming responsibility for On-Orbit Services and Exploration. Bart Reijnen, whom he is replacing in both roles, is in turn taking charge of the Airbus subsidiary Satair Group.

Juckenhöfel will be responsible for all Airbus activities relating to the field of manned space flight and space exploration: all tasks connected with the operation and use of European ISS components, the European Service Module for the NASA Orion mission, space robotics, research in zero-gravity conditions and the development of future service spacecraft.

Read more at: Airbus Defence and Space

Cosmic Rays May Threaten Space-Weather Satellite

A US space-weather satellite that is supposed to alert Earth to incoming solar storms has temporarily dropped offline five times in the year since it became operational. Its onboard computer may be experiencing hiccups caused unexpectedly by galactic cosmic rays.

The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) went out of action most recently on October 11. In each case, it unexpectedly entered a ‘safe hold’ in which scientific data stopped flowing and engineers had to scramble to try to recover the spacecraft. In total, DSCOVR’s space-weather forecasting instruments have been offline for more than 42 hours since 28 October 2015, when the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) took the spacecraft over from NASA, which built and launched it.

Read more at: Scientific American

The Weak Pull of Artificial Gravity

Weightlessness can be both delightful and dangerous. On one hand, it allows astronauts to perform feats not possible on Earth, like moving large equipment with the touch of a finger, and even stunts like flipping upside down at the end of a downlink with students. And, of course, microgravity is of serious interest to many scientists interested in its effects on topics ranging from biology to material sciences to fluid dynamics.

But extended time in weightlessness has been known for decades to have serious health effects on astronauts. Researchers have cataloged a long list of medical issues, from bone and muscle loss to vision changes. With NASA planning long-duration missions beyond Earth orbit, including trips to Mars that will take six to nine months each way, developing ways to counteract those effects, like hours of exercise each day, has been a priority for the agency.

Read more at: Space Review

Opinion: Commercial Crew – It was Never About Saving Money

The last time NASA had to pay for astronauts to hitch a ride to the International Space Station (ISS) with the Russians on their venerable Soyuz spacecraft, they paid – on average – nearly $82 million per seat, for a total of six seats. That’s $490 million to transport six astronauts to and from the ISS.

Think about that for a moment: NASA has paid Russia almost half a billion dollars to ferry six people to the ISS. It appears that the former communists have learned capitalism in a fairly short time – Soyuz seats have increased 384 percent in 10 years. Having no competition allows Russia to increase prices with relative impunity.

To be fair, that amount does cover more than just taxi service to the orbiting outpost – launch services and flight training are also included in that “low, low” price. However, that’s still a lot of money to be sending to a government that may be actively operating against U.S. institutions.

Moreover, Russia’s military actions in Syria and Crimea has raised troubling questions. As if this wasn’t enough, members of the Russian government have made comments suggesting that the nation is considering an end to its work on the space station. This makes ending the dependence on Russian launch services not only appealing but also sensible.

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

Billionaire’s Plan for Supersonic Private Jet Hits Engine Snag

Aerion Corp, backed by Texas billionaire Robert Bass, has hit a snag in the crucial task of selecting an engine maker to build a business jet that exceeds the speed of sound.

The dream of producing the first civil aircraft to fly at supersonic velocity since the Concorde was canceled in 2003 gained momentum when Airbus Group agreed in 2014 to help design and produce the plane. A fractional-jet ownership company last year ordered 20 of the aircraft, known as the AS2.

Bass in 2015 said the company expected to announce an engine partner in the first half of this year. Aerion now expects to reach an agreement in 2017, said Jeff Miller, a spokesman for the Reno, Nevada-based company. The company is “making good progress,” he said Tuesday in an interview during the National Business Aviation Association conference in Orlando, Florida. “We’re taking the time to get to the best decision for all parties.” Chief Executive Officer Doug Nichols declined to comment.

Read more at: NZ Herald

This is how the Lone American in Space is Voting in the Presidential Election

When tens of millions of people around the United States head to polling places to cast their votes in Tuesday’s presidential election, the only American in space will have already filled out his ballot. NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough — the sole American on the International Space Station right now — filled out his (very much) absentee ballot through a special electronic system specifically set up for astronauts on the Space Station, NASA said.

Kimbrough is planning to fill out his ballot and send it back down to Earth sometime in the next couple days, according to the space agency.

County Clerk’s offices in Texas can create a “secure electronic ballot” that is sent up to the station for the astronauts by mission control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.  “An e-mail with crew member-specific credentials is sent from the County Clerk to the crew member,” NASA said in a statement explaining the process in 2008. “These credentials allow the crew member to access the secure ballot.”

Read more at: Mashable

Multi-domain Space Command Needed to Meet the Challenges Ahead, New Leader Says

The newly installed leader of U.S. Air Force Space Command said the military must be prepared to defend its space-enabled advantages, and that space operators are going to be at the forefront of any joint fight.

In a memo sent to Air Force Space Command personnel Oct. 25, Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, said the organization must be ready for a rapidly changing environment. “As we move into our 35th year as a Command, we can’t do business the way we have in the past…we don’t have that luxury,” Raymond said. “Space and cyberspace are no longer benign environments, they are contested operational domains.”

Raymond formerly served as the Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations at the Pentagon from August 2015 to October 2016. He took over command of Air Force Space Command Oct. 25 from Gen. John Hyten, who is set to replace Navy Adm. Cecil Haney  on Nov. 3 as the head of U.S. Strategic Command.

Read more at: Space News