Space Invader Elon Musk to Swarm Earth with 4,425-strong Army of Superfast Internet Satellites

Elon Musk is keen to set up a giant constellation of satellites orbiting the Earth to offer super-fast internet speeds across the globe. To this end, he has asked the US government for permission to launch a record 4,425 satellites into space.

In an application filed with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday (15 November), Musk’s organisation SpaceX requested approval to launch a “non-geostationary orbit satellite system in the Fixed-Satellite Service” that will broadcast on the Ku and Ka frequency bands.

The Ku band is primarily used for satellite communications for fixed and broadcast services, as well as by Nasa to send data between Earth, space shuttles and the International Space Station. The Ka band is used for communication satellites that need higher bandwidth, as well as scientific experiments such as monitoring data from the James Webb Space Telescopeand the Kepler Mission.

Read more at: IB Times

Chinese Astronaut Duo Parachutes to Safe Landing After Month-long Mission

China’s Shenzhou-11 spacecraft and two crew members parachuted to a safe landing in Inner Mongolia on Friday to put an end to a record-setting mission, spending 32 days in space to continue China’s push toward long-duration Space Station missions later in the decade.

Shenzhou-11 departed the Tiangong-2 space laboratory Thursday morning for a day-long free flight to set up for a rocket-powered braking maneuver, a blazing re-entry and parachute-and-rocket-assisted landing in a remote area in Siziwang Banner, Inner Mongolia. Touchdown occurred at 5:59 UTC and both crewmen were reported in good condition after returning from their record-setting mission to space.

Read more at: Spaceflight 101

Explosion at SpaceX in McGregor Part of Accident Investigation

A blast Wednesday at the SpaceX rocket testing facility in McGregor was part of a test by accident investigators and caused no damage or injuries, according to a SpaceX spokesman. The noise emanating from the facility southwest of Waco had people posting inquiries on Facebook early in the day.

The city of McGregor confirmed the community’s volunteer fire department responded to the explosion but took no action at the site. “The sound heard by residents was actually the result of a pressurization test at the McGregor Rocket R&D facility. These tests take place periodically at the site, and this particular test was part of the ongoing testing being conducted by our Accident Investigation Team,” SpaceX spokesman Phil Larson said in an email response to questions. “The volunteer fire department responded as a matter of procedure, but there was no damage to the site or injuries to any personnel.”

Read more at: Wacotrib

Commercial Space Industry Seeks Regulatory Reforms in the Trump Administration

The commercial space industry hopes the administration of President-elect Donald Trump pursues regulatory reforms and continues existing efforts to support its growth.

A panel at the Spacecom conference here Nov. 16 offered a wish list of issues they hope the next administration addresses in the next two years, largely following ongoing discussion on topics such as regulatory oversight of new commercial space activities and space traffic management.

George Nield, associate administrator for commercial space transportation at the Federal Aviation Administration, said a major issue for him was shifting space traffic management work from the U.S. Air Force to a civil agency such as his. “That would focus on enhancing the safety of space operations and preserving the space environment,” he said.

Read more at: SpaceNews

“Standards and norms” Needed in Space, Pentagon Experts Say

The international community needs to establish expected patterns of behavior in space, despite ongoing worldwide political tension, top Pentagon space experts said.

“There is an erosion of some of the commonly accepted standards and norms, and there’s concern about that as folks around the world have tried to find advantage, find seams,” said Winston Beauchamp, the deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for space. “That’s part of the reason why we want to codify our norms and behavior in space because it is such an important domain, not just for us but for humanity.”

Speaking at a Nov. 17 summit hosted by the Defense One website, Beauchamp said that the danger of collision and debris in orbit means that nations must work together to avoid those risks, even if they have somewhat tense relations – such as between the U.S. and Russia or U.S. and China.

Read more at: SpaceNews

45th SW Supports Successful Atlas V GOES-R Launch

The 45th Space Wing supported NASA’s successful launch of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R spacecraft aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 here Nov. 19 at 6:42 p.m. ET.

Once in geostationary orbit, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s GOES-R weather and environmental satellite will provide National Weather Service forecasters the meteorological equivalent of going from black and white to ultra-high-definition color TV, according to a NASA release.  The new satellite can deliver vivid images of severe weather as often as every 30 seconds, scanning the Earth five times faster, with four times greater image resolution and using triple the number of spectral channels compared with today’s other GOES spacecraft.

GOES-R’s advanced imagery and higher resolution will also enable improvements to NOAA’s hurricane tracking and intensity forecasts, as well as the forecasting of severe weather including tornadoes, thunderstorms and flooding.

Read more at: 45th Space Wing

Russia Plans to Land Humans on the Moon in 2031

Russia’s rocket and space corporation RKK Energia recently laid out its plan of crewed exploration of the Moon, which includes a flight to lunar orbit in 2030 and landing of the first Russian cosmonaut on the surface a year later.

RKK Energia CEO Vladimir Solntsev revealed on Nov. 15 that Russian flights to the Moon will enter the most crucial phase in 2026 when an uncrewed mission around Earth’s closest neighbor is planned. One year later, the company aims to launch a lunar lander to orbit the Moon. However, the biggest milestones are scheduled for 2029–2031.

“In 2029, there will be an unmanned flight of a new spacecraft to the Moon’s orbit. In the 2030s, we set the task of a manned flight to the Moon and in 2031 we plan landing on the Moon,” Solntsev said.

The new vision of lunar exploration by Russia may seem to accelerate the country’s space program, but it is simply a postponement of the date of future Moon landings envisioned in earlier statements. Last year, Solntsev made remarks about a possible crewed mission to the Moon in 2025 and with the first piloted lunar landing in 2029.

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

Russian Energia Corporation Preparing Deal with Boeing on Lunar Infrastructure

In 2015, a US court awarded Boeing a multimillion compensation from its former Sea Launch partners, including Energia, following a voluntary bankruptcy procedure when Boeing fully repaid debts to project lenders. Energia and its Ukrainian counterpart Yuzhnoe claimed that Boeing had given unwritten assurances to its Sea Launch partners that it would not seek reimbursements. A preliminary dispute settlement deal was reached in August.

The two companies now plan to create nodes and units capable of synchronizing space technologies, including a docking station for a proposed lunar orbiting station. Meanwhile, Sea Launch settlement documents are set to be signed before the end of November, according to Solntsev.

Read more at: Sputnik News

Space Station Welcomes the Oldest Woman Astronaut, and a Bit of Mars

The International Space Station gained three new residents Saturday, including the oldest and most experienced woman to orbit the world.

A bit of Mars also arrived, courtesy of a Frenchman who brought along a small piece of a Mars meteorite. Launched Thursday from Kazakhstan, the Russian Soyuz capsule docked at the 250-mile-high outpost just an hour or two before NASA launched a weather satellite from Florida. The Soyuz delivered NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy. They joined three men already on board, one American and two Russians.

This is the third space station mission for Whitson, who at 56 is older than each of her crewmates.

Read more at: Fox News

This New Process to Recycle Pee is the Key to Deep Space Travel

There are many obstacles facing the path to deep-space exploration, but engineers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center are close to clearing one: turning urine into water.

NASA scientists updated the International Space Station’s urine-reclaiming system — a vital component to any long-distance spaceflights, such as a journey to Mars. “The goal is not to take large amounts of water with us to space,” Dean Muirhead, who works on water-recovery systems for the International Space Station, said in NASA’s statement. “But to be able to take the water cycle itself to space.”

Astronauts first began recycling urine in 2009, with a machine called the Urine Processor Assembly, but that only reclaimed about 75 percent of water from urine. The new method — a chemical solution called Alternate Urine Pretreatment (AUP) — has the potential to reclaim up to 90 percent. It was installed on the ISS by astronaut Jeff Williams in May.

Read more at: NY Post

Material and Plant Samples Retrieved from Space Experiments

Samples from space material and plant growth experiments carried out on China’s space lab Tiangong-2 are in good condition and have been delivered to scientists for further research, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) said Saturday.

The material and plant samples were retrieved after the successful landing of the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft’s reentry module Friday.

According to CAS, 12 out of 18 material samples sent to space via Tiangong-2 in September, including semiconductor, nano and thin film materials, were taken back for study, while the other six will remain in space to test their physical and chemical features in zero gravity for future development of material processing techniques.

Read more at: Xinhuanet

ESA Just Banished a Rocket to Graveyard Orbit

ESA’s Ariane 5 launch vehicle successfully launched a quartet of communications satellites into space for the first time. Historically, the Galileo satellites have launched in pairs atop a Russian Soyuz rocket. Following a successful separation, the rocket’s second stage is headed for a new destination: a rocket graveyard in the sky.

Ariane 5 lifted off right on time from French Guiana’s Kourou spaceport at 8:06 a.m. EST, marking the sixth Ariane 5 flight of the year — and the rocket’s 89th mission overall — since debuting in 1996. The rocket and its Galileo payload headed for an orbital parking spot approximately 14,000 miles above the Earth — relying on their taxi’s hydrazine-fueled second stage to place them in the proper place — joining a fleet of 14 similar spacecrafts already in orbit, which launched in pairs on Russian Soyuz rockets.

Read more at: Inverse

UK ‘Space Junk’ Project Highlights Threat to Missions

The mass of “space junk” orbiting the Earth poses a serious threat to future exploration, a British scientist said on Friday at the launch of a project to raise awareness of the issue.

“Tackling the problem of space debris is one of humankind’s greatest environmental challenges, but is also perhaps the one that is the least known,” said Hugh Lewis, head of astronautics research at the University of Southampton.

He was supporting the launch of a creative project at London’s Royal Astronomical Society by artists and scientists aiming to shed light on the 27,000 pieces of debris being tracked as they orbit the Earth. There are believed to be around 100 million pieces in total, but some are too small to chart.

Read more at: Space Daily

Ariane 5 Once Again Demonstrates its Flexibility, Launching Four Galileo Satellites Simultaneously

The Ariane 5 launcher completed its mission from the European space port in Kourou (French Guiana) for the 75th time in a row, thus beating Ariane 4’s record for consecutive successful launches.On the occasion of this 233rd launch, Ariane 5 once again demonstrated its flexibility and adaptability by successfully placing 4 satellites in orbit to complete the European Galileo constellation. In this version of Ariane 5, the upper stage was powered by the re-ignitable Aestus engine, already used successfully for launches of the European ATV space vehicle. This 6th launch of 2016 combines a new record with innovation. Not only has Ariane 5 broken the consecutive successful launch record of its predecessor Ariane 4, but it has once again demonstrated its flexibility by placing 4 satellites in a circular orbit simultaneously and at an altitude of 22 922km”, declared Alain Charmeau, CEO of Airbus Safran Launchers.

Read more at: Airbus Safran

Three Up, Two Down — Busy Time for Space Stations

Hours apart, three new crew members headed to the International Space Station (ISS) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan while two Chinese astronauts landed in Inner Mongolia after a month aboard China’s Tiangong-2.

The ISS crew, comprised of NASA’s Peggy Whitson, the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Thomas Pesquet, and Roscosmos’s Oleg Novitsky launched at 3:20 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) November 17, which was 2:20 am November 18 local time at the launch site, aboard the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft.  They will dock with ISS on Saturday at 5:00 pm EST, joining three crew members already aboard — NASA’s Shane Kimbrough and Roscosmos’s Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko.

Read more at: Spacepolicy online

Spaceport Funding Approved by Authority

The Camden County Joint Development Authority unanimously voted Friday to provide $750,000 to help establish a spaceport in Camden County. Before the vote, authority chairman Charlie Smith told members they had an obligation to approve the funding request from the Camden County Commission.

“Refusal would be a slap in the face of the people who are funding us,” Smith said. “It would be a tragedy for us not to abide by the county commission’s request.”

Authority member Sheila Sapp agreed with the recommendation and said members do more work behind the scenes than much of the public realizes because of the confidential nature of the business. “I want people to realize we have projects we are working on,” she said. “We are here to support Camden County.”

Read more at: Goldenisles

Re-Entry: Sylda

An Ariane 5 Sylda payload adapter placed into orbit in 2012 re-entered the atmosphere on November 8, 2016 after a slow drop from a highly elliptical Geostationary Transfer Orbit, having helped put a pair of communications satellites into orbit.

Read more at: Spaceflight 101

Undergrad Devises Strategy for Defending Earth from Potential Comet Impact

Growing up in the California desert, Qicheng Zhang developed an early appreciation for stars and the universal expanse beyond the sky. But his biggest space curiosity by far was with comets, those celestial bodies of ice, gas and dust, leftovers from the long-ago formation of stars and planets.

In high school, Zhang started writing software as a hobby and, naturally, turned to the sky for inspiration. His comet knowledge hit new heights through his development of a planetarium program, which required detailed information about a comet’s location, direction and brightness.

“As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in astronomy and astronomical events,” said Zhang, now a fourth-year student at UC Santa Barbara

Read more at: Space Daily

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Green Lights Next Phase of UAE Mission to Mars

Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum reviewed the designs of the Hope Probe, as part of the Emirates Mars Mission, on 2 November 2016. The project will send an unmanned probe to Mars by 2021 marking the UAE’s 50th National Day.

Sheikh Mohammed gave the greenlight to start manufacturing the probe’s prototypes, the Arab world’s first Mars probe. The project places the UAE with the nine countries that aim to explore Mars.

His Highness said: “UAE ambitions is to explore the outer space. We are investing in our national cadres to lead this project and contribute in expanding our knowledge about Mars. Hope Probe is a qualitative leap for UAE’s scientific efforts, it the first contribution for the Arab world in this regard”.

Read more at: Spacewatchme

Designing a Spacesuit for Mars – Independent Conceptual Design Assessment by Paragon

Mars One® is pleased to present the initial Conceptual Design Assessment of Mars One’s Surface Exploration Suit (SES) by Paragon Space Development Corporation®. It includes the soft-goods and hardware associated with the Pressure Suit and the Portable Life Support System (PLSS) that provides the necessary functions for humans to survive in the pressure suit when outside the habitat.

The SES will enable the settlers to work outside of the habitat and explore the surface of Mars. In the report, design drivers such as the ability to operate under the extremely challenging Mars surface conditions are identified, along with a set of requirements including those related to functional, performance and human interface. “The SES functional baseline pressure suit is derived from the most recent pressure suit development work conducted by ILC Dover, and the baseline Portable Life Support System makes maximal use of local Mars resources (carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and oxygen derived from subsurface water ice) to provide a safe and comfortable environment for the crew member,” said Barry Finger, Paragon Chief Engineer and Director of Life Support Systems.

Read more at: Mars One

Next Steps for Space Policy

Prior to, perhaps, late Tuesday night, the space policy of presidential candidate Donald Trump appeared to be of hypothetical interest to most, perhaps like those of prior presidential candidates like John Kerry and Mitt Romney. After all, the polls and the pundits all appeared to conclude that Trump had a small chance, at best, of winning.

So much for conventional wisdom. Trump’s victory in the November 8 election means that his campaign’s space policy, which came together only in the final weeks of the race, has received newfound attention by the space community. Little has changed in the policy itself since the election—the campaign-turned-transition has understandably been focused on bigger issues—but how that rhetoric becomes action has generated interest, and concern, among many in the industry.

Read more at: Space Review

Space Technology Used for Cancer Imaging Featured in New Book for Medical Practitioners

Research from the Universities of Leicester and Nottingham that exploits space-age technology for medical benefits is featured in a new publication.

Described as an essential reference for surgeons, theatre staff and other key medical personnel, the book, co-edited by Leicester and Nottingham scientists, includes a number of chapters that highlight research taking place within the universities.

The book, Gamma Cameras for Interventional and Intraoperative Imaging, follows from a STFC-funded workshop held in Leicester in February 2015. Gamma cameras are traditionally large devices that are situated in nuclear medicine departments, but recent advances in detector design has enabled the production of compact gamma cameras that allow nuclear imaging at the patient bedside and in the operating theatre. This is the first book to cover this new area of imaging, and provides a unique insight into the experimental and clinical use of small field of view gamma cameras in hospitals.

Read more at: Spaceref

NASA Under Trump

With the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, space policy experts and fans alike are trying to grasp the implications for NASA. In the past week, many people have written solid analyses of likely near-term changes, and I recommend reading pieces at SpaceNews, Scientific American, and National Geographic. However, the real problem is that there are not much data to work with. At this point, everything is going to be speculation to some degree.

I want to provide some additional detail to this existing analysis, particularly by looking at the bigger picture budgetary forces that may be buffeting NASA over next four years.

Read more at: Planetary

How Donald Trump’s Win Could Change the Trajectory of Commercial Space Ventures

President-elect Donald Trump’s advisers say they want to rely more on commercial ventures to pioneer the space frontier – but some of those ventures’ high-profile backers aren’t exactly in line with other parts of Trump’s policy agenda. For example, SpaceX’s billionaire CEO, Elon Musk, sees climate change as the biggest challenge facing humanity on Earth and has said a tax on carbon emissions is as necessary as garbage collection fees.

Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, who founded Blue Origin to send passengers and payloads into space, is also the owner of The Washington Post. The Post, Amazon and Bezos were all caught up in Trump’s ire during the campaign. On the flip side of the issue, there’s at least one space billionaire who can hardly wait for Trump to get into office: Robert Bigelow, the founder of Bigelow Aerospace.

Read more at: Geekwire

DARPA Banks on Robot Copilots to Help Quell Military Pilot Shortage

The US military has a well-known shortage of pilots — a problem that is exacerbated by aging legacy aircraft that require at least two people in the cockpit — but the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency may have a solution on the way.

DARPA is making headway on two different concepts for robotic copilots that would be able to autonomously operate aircraft and offer advice to the human pilot onboard. In October, the two defense contractors developing those systems, Aurora Flight Sciences and Sikorksy, conducted a series of flight demonstrations ahead of a downselect to a single vendor for the program’s third and final phase.

The impetus behind the Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program is to develop a system that can reduce the number of crew onboard manned platforms, going “from two pilots down to one, and then possibly down to zero,” explained Jean Charles-Lede, program manager of DARPA’s tactical technology program office, during a recent briefing.

Read more at: Defense News